Scores of residents from Sophia turned out on Sunday for engagements with the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) on planned infrastructural upgrades in the communities.
Two consultations went on simultaneously in Block ‘E,’ and Plum Park, Sophia, where officers from the CH&PA briefed the residents on the scope of works that will be done within the earmarked communities and then entertained questions and suggestions.
Officers from the Authority were accompanied by engineers, who gave the residents an in depth explanation on their limitations and how much of their suggestions would be feasible. According to the CH&PA, the project is being funded by a loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) under the Road Network Upgrade and Expansion Programme. While the loan of US$65 million was first slated to cover the expenses for the Sheriff Street to Mandela Avenue road upgrade, it was explained by Senior Community Officer from the Authority, Donelle Best-Bascom that the loan has been re-formulated and some US$30 million will be used for the project, which will see major infrastructural work being done in Pattensen/Turkeyen (Section B), Section C Cummings Lodge, Turkeyen (Section C and D), Block ‘E,’ Sophia, Block ‘X,’ Liliendaal (Section A), Block ‘AA’ and ‘BB,’ Sophia (Plum Park), and Block ‘F’ and ‘R,’ Sophia.
Best-Bascom explained to the residents that the restructured loan agreement is expected to be signed and formalised in December, with works starting as soon as the first quarter of 2018.
Speaking to Stabroek News, Best-Bascom said the Authority was happy with the turnout and has been able to consult with more than 600 residents.
Engineer Randolph Hunte explained that the reformulated loan will allow for the building of comprehensive communities, which is expected to facilitate community development and economic growth. The works in the various community will encompass the upgrading of some 17 kilometers of existing roads, installation of solar-powered LED street lights, construction of sidewalks and pathways, upgrades to community buildings and grounds and for subsidies for the construction of core homes and home improvement projects.
“The reason for the consultation meeting is to have your views and ideas to ensure that during implementation phase, you, the community, will be part of it from the beginning to the end to ensure that whatever work is being done will be done in satisfaction of the beneficiaries,” Hunte explained, while emphasising that the Authority wants to ensure that the communities are actively involved.
Residents at both consultations expressed their satisfaction at being able to communicate their issues to the Authority and highlighted special areas, such as drains and roads that are in dire need of work. However, it was explained to them that the project is across-the-board and no one community can have all they want.
While the project will entail the construction of concrete drains, it was highlighted that some of the larger drains will still be handled by the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority, unless the works are critical, then the CH&PA would request to do the works itself.
One resident of Block ‘E,’ Sophia highlighted the issue of the roads in the area being too small for two lanes of traffic and requested that they be widened. However, it was explained to the man that since the Authority will be working with limited space and already existing infrastructure, there isn’t much that can be done about the widening of roads.
The residents also implored the officials to ensure that the roads are well equipped with safety measures, such as speed bumps. Another resident also pointed out that the playing area in Block ‘E’ should be regularised and fenced. However, it was pointed out that the area is currently on a government reserve and therefore cannot have any permanent fixtures erected. But Best-Bascom added that the issue will be discussed and the Authority will see how best it can assist the residents.
Even though the works are being done by the government, from an IDB loan, the officials implored the residents to form a community group that they can register to seek funds from other agencies to carry out their own works in the communities.