Government has compulsorily acquired 123 acres of prime lands at Houston, East Bank Demerara and on the opposite side of the river for the construction of access roads for a new floating bridge.
It is reported that one of the pieces of land that is being acquired is located at Houston, next to the Shore Base.
The details are published Official Gazette dated December 21, 2019.
The Opposition immediately raised questions, making it clear that such a transaction should not be done while the “caretaker” government under the Coalition is preparing for general and regional elections.
A planned new Demerara River bridge has been in the works for many years now, after it was recognised that the aging one had long outlived its 40-year usefulness.
The Coalition Government had entered a controversial agreement to conduct feasibility studies which placed Houston, East Bank Demerara and Versailles, West Bank as the ideal locations for the bridge.
According to the Order signed by Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson, on December 16, the lands are being acquired for public purposes for the construction of access roads for a new bridge.
On the East Bank of Demerara, some 55.623 acres, comprising of tracts ‘RR’, ‘RR1’, ‘RR2’, ‘RR3’, Parcel 184, 4727, sub-parcel 4220A and sub-parcel 204A, being portions of Plantation Houston and Ruimveldt.
Schedule 2 speaks to two strips of land- 36.37 and 7.43 acres- at Plantation Versailles, West Bank Demerara, being compulsorily acquired.
Minister David Patterson
Another strip of land- 23.9 acres is located at Plantation Goed Fortuin, Versailles, Malgre Tout, Klien Pouderoyen, Grant 7042 and 7043, at the rear of Plantation Vreed-en-Hoop, was last set of lands compulsorily acquired by the government.
Yesterday, Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, made it clear that the timing of transactions raises alarming questions.
“These lands are being compulsorily acquired by a government that is in caretaker mode that is never supposed to undertake such.”
According to Jagdeo, there have been several questions about other aspects of the project, including feasibility studies, which were controversially awarded to a European consultant.
“We all know that the Procurement Commission ruled that the procurement aspect of the feasibility studies was improper.
Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo
“There seems to be haste to get these lands a few months before elections. We don’t understand the haste as in any case, it will be at least another year, before any construction can begin, even assuming you raise the financing.”
The former president explained that the preparatory work alone is one year before contracts are awarded and mobilisation begins.
According to Jagdeo, the People’s Progressive Party will be looking more closely at the transactions in the coming days.
The Ministry of Public Infrastructure has been meeting with residents who would be affected by the construction, whenever it starts, at the Houston, and other areas on the West Bank Demerara.