by Zena Henry
Residents of Timehri North can now breathe a sigh of relief as government assured them that they would not be uprooted from their homes to facilitate the controversial Cheddi Jagan International Airport runway (CJIA) expansion project.
Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson said during his presentation in Parliament Friday June 26 that only 15 homes might have to be moved to facilitate the expansion, and necessary assistance would be given to displaced persons who need it. “On behalf of the government I’d like to inform the residents of Timehri North that this proposed expansion of the runway will be done without the mass relocation that was threatened by the previous administration.”
“In fact Mr. Speaker, no more than 15 houses may need to be relocated, and if this happens, required and suitable land close by will be found and developed for anyone dislocated. Plus Mr. Speaker, assistance will be provided for this relocation.”
Minister Patterson was fulfilling promises made by the A Partnership for National Unity +Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) coalition while in opposition and on the campaign trail for the May 11, 2015 general and regional elections.
The project entails, among other things, the extension of the runway from 7,447 feet to 10,500 feet to accommodate larger aircraft.
The Timehri residents, who were promised regularisation of homes under the People’s Progressive Party government, were subsequently described as squatters when that government needed to facilitate the more than US$150M airport expansion project. The project was said to be overpriced and allegations were even made about no feasibility study being done.
The Timehri residents had expressed total dissatisfaction with the former government’s attitude regarding their welfare.
They protested and demanded genuine discussions for positive resolutions to their concerns.
It was touted that the prime land around the airport was being sought for associates of the then administration, but the PPP rubbished those statements.
Timehri farmers are hoping for assistance from the current administration as millions of dollars worth in crops were destroyed during the early stages of the project at the southern end of the runway.