Officials from the Ministry of Public Infrastructure met yesterday with residents of Houston, East Bank Demerara to provide information on possible land acquisition for the new Demerara River Harbour project.
According to a press release from the Ministry of Public infrastructure (MPI), residents from four households met with three officials from the ministry, Senior Engineer Ronald Roberts, Transport Planning Officer Ramona Duncan and Socio-environmental Officer Shawn-Ann Greene.
“We want to ensure that you are informed every step of the way,” Greene was quoted in the MPI press release as saying. Greene explained that the “first grassroots community meeting” was to foster a transparent process as the project gets underway, whilst pointing out that all of the previously identified homes might not be affected upon the determination of the final design of the bridge.
According to the MPI statement, the proposed alignment for the new bridge and additional project details, including findings from the Feasibility Study and Design were also shared with the residents. As the project moves beyond the preliminary stages, the impact assessments will take into account the residents’ concerns which at present include being evicted from their properties without adequate notice or compensation.
“We’ve established lives for ourselves in this area: we’re accustomed to this life and we want to continue those lives as best as possible,” one resident was quoted in the press release, as saying. The residents had no objection to relocation, but preferred to stay on the East Bank of Demerara. The ministry officials shared that the Ministry of Legal Affairs would be negotiating directly with the residents on compensation, while the Lands and Surveys Department will be conducting the valuation process to ensure that residents are correctly reimbursed for their homes.
“Today’s meeting was informative and I appreciate the ministry coming and making us aware of what is going on,” Rantwi Rupnarain, a Houston resident for 60 years, was quoted in the MPI release, as saying after the meeting.