Fifteen years battling cement bond in Cotton Field residential area

Dear Editor,

It has been more than 15 years since I reported to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA), the Anna Regina Town Council and the other relevant agencies, that an illegal cement and steel rods bond is causing me and my family much sickness and discomfort in our house.

This illegal bond was constructed about two feet away from my fence and it is in the residential area of Cotton Field, Essequibo Coast. Large tonnes of cement, steel rods and fertilizers are being stocked in the bond, the cement is being offloaded and loaded on the windward side of the public road. Whenever, the cement sacks burst, the dust would fly into my house and drinking water tanks, it can been seen on my bed and furniture and my wall.

The businessman will dump the tonnes of steel rods from his lorries onto the floor of the zinc bond, shaking my house, cracking the walls and foundation and the cement will deface  my newly painted building. No plan was submitted or  approval  given by the relevant agencies for the construction of this cement and steel rods bond in this highly residential village. Former EPA Executive Director Mr Doorga Persaud, having received my objection letter, sent a team of his officers.

Their investigations revealed that the bond was illegal and it was straddling my boundary on the western side of my fence, inside the bond had a large stock of cement, steel rods and fertilizers and it was in a residential area. The EPA Executive Director sent the businessman a letter to desist from using his bond  and move it   into the industrial site at Anna Regina, since such an  activity should be carried out in an industrial site.

The businessman refused to adhere to the EPA Executive Director’s instructions. The EPA Executive Director then sent a team of his officers to close off the bond and asked the police commander Mr Johnson  of Anna Regina to monitor the bond activity and to see that the bond is sealed. The businessman took a lawyer and got his operation to reopen and business began as usual affecting the residents of the community with cement and noise pollution. The EPA then took the businessman to the High Court.

There was a flurry of letters by me and EPA Executive Director Mr Doorga Persaud in the press. Mr Khemraj Ramjattan now Minister of Public Security saw this exchange of letters. He made contact with me and said that he wanted to represent me in the High Court Pro Bono. I invited him to meet with me and see firsthand the damage and  what is happening to my property. He and a team from the AFC including the late Sheila Holder came to my home and met me. Mr Ramjattan took pictures of the damage and the illegal bond.

He, too, came onboard with the EPA and filed an order in the High Court, they both got the Honourable Judge twice to stop the operation of loading and offloading of cement and steel rods in the residential area. In the meantime Mr Doorga Persaud made a recommendation that the bond be removed from the southern side of my fence. The bond is still next to my fence, no one came to remove it and the businessman continues to do his business as usual.  Mr Doorga Persaud was later transferred to the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission.

Dr Inderjit Ramdass who took over from him as the head of EPA did not carry out the removal of the bond. When the APNU+AFC government assumed office, one of the new officers Miss Noble called me and asked me if I would like to proceed with the matter. I told her to proceed, she and a team from the new management visited the illegal cement and steel rods bond at 42, Cotton Field and took statements from me. The matter is now before the new Executive Director Dr Vincent Adams.

I am hoping to get justice from the new management and the Executive Director after 15 years in the waiting.

Yours faithfully,

Mohamed Khan

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