— displacement necessary for development
SEA defence and flood protection provided by the section of mangroves being cleared at Malgre Tout/Versailles, West Bank Demerara, Region Three will not be lost, as necessary measures will be implemented to replicate the function of the mangroves and provide same.
The swathe of mangroves is being cleared by TriStar Incorporated, a company owned by Guyanese-born Krishna Persaud, who hails from Region Three but is a naturalised United States (US) citizen, with intention of establishing a US$100 million proposed shore base and wharf facility at the said locality.
In order for the facility to be constructed, it is inevitable that the mangroves must be cleared; however, this has generated widespread criticism. In addressing those criticisms on Monday, Public Works Minister, Juan Edghill, told reporters that the developer has included “hard structures that will be built to mitigate flooding” and protect properties from flooding, in the engineering design.
“He has provided documentation, drawings, engineering designs and everything, of how the development will take place and what will be the measure in place for flood prevention …. 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 mitigation structures,” Edghill said.
“So, the big issue here is the cutting of the mangroves to facilitate this development, the big issue is not flooding because the adequacy of the measures – the hard structures to prevent flooding are in place, so the big issue is if we should cut mangroves or don’t cut mangroves,” he added.
The Public Works Minister highlighted that with Guyana being an oil producing nation, there are infrastructural developments that are necessary to facilitate and properly service the industry, one such development is the establishing of shore base facilities.
Edghill explained that other developmental works, including the Wales Development Authority would require displacing of mangroves, all to facilitate development, create jobs and modernise Guyana.
Edghill pointed out that the eastern bank of the Demerara river, which now houses stellings, wharfs and shore base developments, was once lined with mangroves, which had to be cleared to facilitate those development, as “development comes with changes”. He explained that the same is necessary for the western section of the Demerara River.
He lauded the development by TriStar, noting that the facility will create some 150 jobs for Guyanese, which is in alignment with People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) elections campaign promise of creating 50,000 jobs.
“From documentation and what I have seen, what TriStar is seeking to do is to ensure that a lot of the work that is being done in Trinidad and in Texas could be done right here in Guyana and that is not something to be sabotaged, that is something to be encouraged,” he said.
Minister within the Ministry of Public Works, Deodat Indar, a resident of Region Three, shared similar sentiments. He noted that a shore base in that region will completely transform the region.
“Region Three have a small economy, why we can’t develop that? Who says only Region Four must have all of the development, all of the shore bases, all of the laydown yards, all of the facilities for waste and so? Region Three needs development too, so does Region Six, Five and Two, and the rest of the regions in the country,” Indar said.
Indar highlighted that many support services currently performed out of Trinidad and Tobago can be performed locally if these developments are established. He noted that currently there are only two shore base facilities in the country, which is not capable of rendering the number of services needed.
“There is no more land on this one side [eastern bank] to give shore base. How are we going to develop the country? How are we going to ensure the people of Region Three get jobs in the oil and gas sector that has been promised?” Indar asked.
He highlighted that the eastern bank of the Demerara River also had extensive mangroves which were cleared to facilitate development. One such development is the Guyana Shore Base Inc. (GYSBI).
“Look at the current shore base at GYSBI, there were mangroves there, I remember when those mangroves were removed. Did you have any flooding there? No, the people went and revet the place with steel sheet piling; there was no flooding, they protected the shoreline and is the same thing is going to happen across the river,” he said.
The minister disclosed that due to the number of applications and expressions of interest the ministry has received, there will be more shore base facilities to be developed on the western side of the Demerara River and measures will be instituted to replicate the function of the mangroves.