City Hall yesterday took action against what it described as the unauthorised construction of a building on Holmes Street, ordering workers to stop working on the structure, seizing concrete blocks and demolishing a concrete bridge which was blocking the drain.
Town Clerk Royston King also warned that legal action could be taken. He said the four-storey building, which is believed to belong to businessman Paul James, was being constructed without permission from City Hall. He was unable to make contact with James yesterday.
“He has no permission to build. There is no application, no approval, no documentation at all at City Hall for this building. No documents with respect to the structure and construction work presently being conducted,” King said. He declared that as a result, the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) will be moving to either demolish the building or file a court case against the owner.
King related that the M&CC decided to investigate the causes of overtopping in several parts of the city and among the several illegal structures found blocking drains was the Holmes Street building.
“All of Main Street was blocked…and when we investigated, we discovered this (the building) and then we discovered there was no documentation at City Hall and then we discovered that they were dumping builders’ waste in the alleyway and waterway,” King told reporters.
He said a decision was taken to remove some of the materials which were blocking the drain and workers at the site were ordered to stop working. M&CC workers seized several concrete blocks and demolished a concrete bridge which was blocking the drain flowing along Holmes Street. Attempts were also made to remove several piles of builders’ waste which were dumped behind the building.
These efforts are expected to significantly reduce flooding in the lower Main Street area.
“They blocked the entire drain system preventing flow so as soon as there is little rain the entire Main Street is flooded on this part because of this,” King asserted. He added that there is evidence that the builder/owner of the building was “also depositing large amounts of waste oil in the drain affecting the ecology of the city.”
He said the M&CC will be writing to the owner(s) about the waste oil directing them to cease depositing it in the waterway with immediate effect and will also be sending them a legal notice.
“We are likely to take them to court for that [the waste oil]. No amount of money you pay after damaging the environment can repair it,” King said.
Asked why the city waited for the building to reach this stage of construction before taking action, King said there are a lot of weaknesses in the M&CC system which they are now trying to address.
Questioned on whether the City asked the builder or owner to clear the material, King responded: “they are an encumbrance on the parapet and they were advised to remove the encumbrance but they took too long so we are moving the material.”
He said all efforts to reach the owner proved futile so agents of the M&CC spoke with a site manager who promised to make contact with the owner. An hour later, with no response, a decision was taken to clear the area.
“All the waterways and thoroughfares and pavements are collectively owned by all citizens of Georgetown and no individual or company has the right to appropriate those facilities without express permission of the council or without offering compensation for the inconvenience that he/she would be causing citizens,” King emphasised.
He encouraged all companies operating within the city to demonstrate good corporate social responsibility and follow the laws.
“Those who are desirous of doing construction work in the city should follow the laws. The first thing business people should do is apply to council for permission to erect any structure in city. If they have any doubts they can come in for information at the City Engineer’s Department or public relations unit and receive same,” he said.
He further noted that during yesterday’s inspection several similar illegalities were found.
“There is a similar situation at Hotel Tower and with Discount building opposite Teleperformance. They and a number of other people in the city are building without permission and it has to stop,” King declared.