The construction of the $132m Diamond/Golden Grove Magistrate’s Court is expected to commence soon with the aim of providing more accessible justice to residents along the East Bank of Demerara corridor before the end of this year.
Turning-of-the-sod and tree-planting ceremonies were yesterday held to mark the commencement of the construction in the compound of the Golden Grove Police Station.
Among those who attended the ceremony yesterday were Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan, Chancellor of the Judiciary (ag) Justice Yonette Cummings- Edwards, Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George-Wiltshire, and other members of the judiciary.
Justice George-Wiltshire described the ceremony as symbol of growth of the administration of the justice system more particularly the court system. “We just had Providence court which was serving this community but due to the development of the housing in this area we have thought it fit to establish another court as we seek to ensure access to justice throughout our country”, she said.
The project was awarded to P&D Contracting Inc. following a tendering process and a contract was signed on November 1, last year. The duration is expected to be one year. This contracting firm also constructed courts at Wales, Sparendaam and in Georgetown.
The building will consist of two court rooms, a library, two Magistrate’s chambers, two clerk’s offices, a complete registry, a holding cell, briefing room, janitors room and bailiff bond. It is also expected to be the first court in the country to be outfitted with an elevator.
Registrar of the Supreme Court, Sueanna Lovell, while speaking about the project, said the construction of the new court was the idea of the former Chancellor (ag) of the Judiciary, Justice Carl Singh.
“Before the end of his tenure as Chancellor of the Judiciary, Justice Carl Singh being cognizant of the need to make justice more accessible to the citizens of Guyana had an idea to build another Magistrate’s Court on the East Bank of (Demerara)”, Lovell said.
The East Bank of Demerara currently has one court; the Providence Magistrate’s Court which covers from Agricola to Timehri. This resulted in one magistrate being tasked with thousands of cases, Lovell said. “..And that in itself lent itself to injustice and overburdening of our judicial personnel”, she noted.
Lovell explained that while one court had been adequate at the time, due to the rapid expansion of housing developments on the East Bank over the past few years that court alone cannot adequately served the citizens.
“Against this backdrop, his honour sought to identify a suitable location for the court and since this area in Diamond/Grove had become one of the largest and most densely populated housing developments along the East Bank it made sense to establish the court at or near this area”, she explained.
According to Lovell, the process began after Justice Singh was made aware of the plot of land near the Golden Grove Police Station. “…And since it is customary to establish courts wherever possible, close to the police stations, he (Justice Singh) set about giving fruit to his seeds of an idea to establish this court”, she further explained.
Upon his instructions, approval was sought and granted from the Ministry of Public Security and the Diamond/Grove Neighbour-hood Democratic Council for construction of the court at the site.
The Supreme Court, she said, engaged E&A Consultants to produce the necessary documents including a plan and bills of quantities in order to get the process started.
Thereafter, Lovell said the requisite tendering process was held and the contact was awarded to P&D Contracting Inc.
However, since the contract was signed in November, there have been some delays due to the inclement weather. The work is expected to start soon with the aim of keeping to the schedule.
“It is out hope that the work done at this facility will bring the much needed relief to the residents of the East Bank of Demerara and truly make justice more accessible to this key section of our populace”, Lovell said.