Gov’t should consider Charity Wharf rehab as national priority

Dear Editor,

In the Stabroek News of February 1st, 2018, David Patterson, Minister of Public Infrastructure (MPI), disclaimed responsibility for the operation and maintenance of the Charity Wharf which is located on the right bank of the Pomeroon River, Region 2. He further emphasized that the wharf was never a responsibility of MPI and by implication, the Government of Guyana and therefore MPI is regrettably not in a position to answer questions on the wharf’s operation and repairs.

These responses were made to the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) Administration of Region 2 who had earlier informed MPI that the Charity Wharf was in a state of disrepair, unsafe for its users and adversely affecting commerce. Remedial assistance was therefore requested from MPI to renovate the Wharf while providing accommodation and/or relocating its users.

The Charity Wharf was built, maintained and managed by the Transport & Harbours Department (T&HD) under Guyana’s Colonial Government. After the country gained its independence, the assets of T&HD were ceded to the newly formed PNC/UF Government and subsequently to the PPP/C Government and presently to the APNU+AFC Government under which T&HD is a Division and not a Department. Wharves located at Parika, Bartica, Leguan and elsewhere including Charity are collectively under the jurisdiction of MPI, as their management, operation and maintenance have demonstrated over the years. Now that the Charity Wharf is in need of costly repairs, it was astounding to the people of Region 2 that Minister Patterson has declared that the Charity Wharf was never the responsibility of MPI although the Government of Guyana has never officially ceded its ownership of this property to the Region 2 Administration. If this was indeed so, Minister Patterson never stated how the transfer was made and when.

Like the coastal road, the Charity Wharf is necessary and vital for the economic development and transportation needs of the people of the Essequibo Coast and those living in the riverine areas of the Pomeroon and Moruca rivers. The Charity Wharf is also important for the conveyance of materials and people to and from the Dawa Pump Station which provides irrigation water for the entire Tapakuma Project. It has also been providing critical support for growing tourism in Regions 1 & 2 as well as the sawmilling and mining industries operating in the country’s interior.

Refurbishing the Charity Wharf for its intended purpose will be a costly and technically challenging project for the RDC, Region 2 since it does not have the resources – financial and technical to undertake it. Therefore, Minister Patterson should not be naive in thinking otherwise if he is serious about Guyana’s development and where the resources for this project should come from. It is imperative that the APNU+AFC Government consider this project a national priority and provide the funding to approve the appointment of a competent consulting engineer (not the one who had designed the adjoining revetment south of the wharf some years ago) to start the design process followed by a quick contract award and construction for this vitally necessary project to improve the living standards of Guyanese inhabiting one of the poorest regions of the country.

Yours faithfully,

Charles Sohan

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