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Govt considers charging utility companies to use parapets

Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson and his Junior Minister, Annette Ferguson.

Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson is weighing his options on whether to set up an escrow account, which will give the Ministry leverage to fast-track the removal of utilities that encumber road projects.

He made this disclosure at a recent news conference when questioned about the delay in the Caribbean Development Bank funded Vreed-en-hoop to Hydronie road project, West Coast Demerara (WCD).

“It is a perennial issue the Ministry is battling…it plagued the East Bank and East Coast road projects and this one [Vreed-en-hoop to Hydronie] has fallen prey to that. It baffled me that the Ministry would have gone out to tender knowing these problems, yet continued to do so,” Minister Patterson told journalists.

Cognizant of the fact that the utilities companies – Guyana Power and Light Inc. (GPL), Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) and Guyana Telephone and Telegraph (Gtt) – are empowered by the laws of Guyana, the Minister intends to find a solution.

“We find great difficulty and sloth when they use our parapets which would have been done by the Ministry. When we ask them to relocate, we don’t ask them for free relocation,” Hon. Patterson stated.

The escrow account concept, the Minister added, has been discussed with officials from the companies during meetings. 

“I have informed them during meetings….and I hope with the agreement of my colleagues at Cabinet that the time may come for us to probably charge a minimal fee to the utilities companies to put into an escrow account,” said Patterson.

He continued: “Should we need to proceed with road expansions, we would just have to take those funds out of the account without being subjected to the whims and fancies, and technical availabilities of the companies, to relocate.”