The controversy over the removal of more than 48 acres of mangroves from a West Demerara location to allow the construction of a shore base facility for the oil sector took another twist this afternoon as the Minister of Public Works, Juan Edghill defended the removal.
At a hastily called press conference this afternoon, the Works Minister noted that the Government takes issues of climate change and flood protection seriously, but added that Guyana is also preparing to become a major player in the oil industry and as such new infrastructure and facilities will be needed.
“Let me make it pellucid, development comes with changes. The entire eastern section of the Demerara river comprises several structures, stellings, wharves, shore-based developments. There was a time when all out there were mangroves. The people of West Demerara deserve the same. Development of the Demerara River to facilitate the new wave of development coming to Guyana will mean at some stage, mangroves will be replaced”, Edghill said.
While praising the US$100 Million investment by the Guyanese owned company TriStar to build the facility on the West Bank of Demerara and providing more than 150 jobs in the construction process, Edghill said part of the development plan will see concrete river defence structures being built.
Minister Edghill explained that “hard structures that will be built to mitigate flooding and to protect that property and all the property at the back of it and near to it from any flooding, by way of putting in hard sea defenses. We at the Ministry are aware that the developer has in place currently, 70 container loads of sheet piles to put in place the necessary flood mitigating structures. So the big issue here is the cutting of the mangroves to facilitate this development. The big issue is not flooding since hard structures are in place”.
Some West Demerara residents have expressed worry about the removal of the mangroves and the impact it could have a flood comes.
The Works Minister said “the PPPC government in its approach to the development of the country has said repeatedly that we will not be obstructionists, we will be facilitating. And we have been facilitating and will continue to facilitate once it comes within a framework where it is regulated, sustainable, where there is no danger to live and livelihoods and where we can see the creation of jobs. This project fits within that framework”.
Edghill said the government will continue to engage the company on its development plans.