Muri Brasil’s airstrip refusal linked to New River mining policy- Benn

Last Updated on Saturday, 26 December 2015, 21:00 by GxMedia

The New River Triangle

Transport Minister, Robeson Benn on Monday said refusal to grant permission for the construction of an airstrip in the New River Triangle was in keeping with a policy position about mineral activity in the area.

The highly controversial grant of Permission for Geological and Geophysical Survey (PGGS) to a Guyanese company, Muri Brasil Ventures Inc, has put Natural Resources Minister, Robert Persaud under fire. He is expected to face further grilling on the matter next year by the parliamentary sectoral committee on natural resources.

Benn confirmed that Muri Brasil Ventures has not been given the green light to construct the airstrip because of, among other reasons, security concerns rather than the “current imbroglio” in the press over the granting of the PGGS.

“I will not get into any discussions we may have. I am saying that it was not granted. It was a policy position with respect to the general undertakings in the area and in respect of that policy position, I believe the approval was withheld,” he said.

Dating back to the Peoples National Congress (PNC)-led administration, a policy position was taken that there would be no mining in the New River Triangle- an area that is claimed by neighbouring Suriname.

Benn refused to say whether the Geological and Geophysical Survey would go ahead and directed enquiries to Persaud. Pressed on the matter, Benn said he was unaware that the refusal to build the airstrip would effectively stop the work. “To me, an airstrip in the area may support more efficient logistics for activity in the area,” he said. “Who will be there to watch to see who lands and who goes and who does what an airstrip? It is a constant bother that we have.”

Questions, he said, included whether an airstrip was needed in the area and if it would “present us with additional difficulties in terms of security and oversight.”