Apr 01, 2013 News Comments Off on Plaisance residents halt building of transmitting tower on community ground
– contractor packs up and leaves
By Dale Andrews
Angry Plaisance, East Coast Demerara residents have vowed to staunchly resist the move to deprive them of their community centre ground to facilitate the construction of a transmitting tower.
The villagers yesterday turned out in numbers to halt the current work which is being undertaken by a Chinese contracting firm Huawei, in collaboration with local subcontractors, with the blessing of the government of Guyana.
The proposed tower is part of the E-governance programme that will facilitate the linking of government’s fibre-optic cable that has been laid from Lethem to Linden to the coastline, enabling internet access.
It will be one of 54 towers that will be erected in densely populated areas along the coast.
But the main bone of contention is the lack of proper consultation with stakeholders. This has led to accusations of government’s contemptuousness and insincerity towards the community.
The proposed site for the tower is the western side of the community centre ground which is separated by just a fence from the mansion of former President, Bharrat Jagdeo.
Residents lamented that ever since the construction of the homes of Jagdeo and other Government bigwigs, in what is popularly called Pradoville 2, all recreational activities on the ground have been severely curtailed.
“They say we are disturbing them…now they want to take away the field completely,” one resident stated.
At present there are several huge wooden poles and mud dug up to build the foundation for the tower piled up on the main playing area of the ground, rendering the area useless for any form of recreational activity.
Residents vowed to ensure that their only place of recreation is not taken away by an administration that has already “stolen their land” to establish the “Pradoville 2” housing scheme, and granted a huge chunk of their cemetery to a private investor.
Their cause is being supported by prominent A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) strategist, former Member of Parliament, Aubrey Norton, who told Kaieteur News that for too long the ruling People’s Progressive Party/Civic administration has been getting away with bullying its way towards owning most of Guyana.
He said that since the acquisition of the land to construct Pradoville 2, it was evident that the administration, (under former President, Bharrat Jagdeo) intended to set up an empire aback of the community without regards for the people of Plaisance.
Initially the government had removed the existing Guyana Broadcasting Corporation tower at Sparendaam and placed it all the way across the Demerara River at La Parfaite Harmonie.
This, the residents claimed, was to facilitate the building of mansions for close associates of the administration.
“Now they want to put back another tower on our playfield, no way!” and angry resident declared.
Norton went on to point out that there is even talk about a new road to Pradoville 2, which will be cut directly from the main East Coast Demerara Highway, something which he had objected to while he was a Member of Parliament.
“First of all, you did not consult the community; second, it is evident that you wait until you remove the elected council and put PPP people in place at the NDC…,” Norton explained.
“Why would you build a tower that could give off radiation, etcetera, where people will play? It’s a bad choice. But it also points to disregard that this government has for people. The reality is that this (tower) cannot go ahead. It’s against the rights of the people of Plaisance and we stand up and will deal with it,” Norton told Kaieteur News.
“It is contemptuous and disrespectful and you know that they use the police against the people; well we will deal with it, we will talk with the police and deal with the issue,” he added.
Several prominent residents, including popular television host Basil Bradshaw, turned up at the facility to lend support.
Many of them were unaware that a tower was being constructed in the centre ground and were shocked to see the state of the facility, which only up to last year hosted football under floodlights.
Bradshaw, who was one of Guyana’s leading sprinters, recalled that the Plaisance Community Centre Ground was at one time the most modern facility along the entire East Coast of Demerara.
The ground once boasted a cricket and football pitch; it hosted major circle tennis competitions and community fairs.
“I run school sports here, and me children and grandchildren got to run school sports hey too. We are not giving it up…Let them take it to Better Hope ground,” said a middle-aged female resident.
“They take over we burial ground, we can’t even get burial space, now dey want to come and tek over we ground. We had enough,” another villager declared.
Another villager told of writing to the authorities with a view to establishing a committee to run the affairs of the community centre and playfield, and getting absolutely no response.
“Now I see why they have not responded to us,” she said.
The caretaker of the facility explained that he only became aware that a portion of the ground was to be used to construct the tower when two weeks ago he saw several pieces of heavy duty equipment mobilized at the main gate.
He explained that he contacted the overseer of the NDC and was told that instructions were received from the Office of the President to allow the equipment to enter the ground to start work.
“I told her (Overseer) that I see some people come fuh do something in de ground and she told me that the president office send her a letter. So I ask her if I must open the gate and she said yes and I did,” the caretaker explained.
Residents only learnt of the construction when they turned up at the ground yesterday to prepare it for today’s kite flying.
Kaieteur News was told that towers are also to be erected at Beterverwagting, La Bonne Intention and Lusignan among other villages on the East Coast of Demerara.
Each tower will be self-supporting and will require no connecting wire that could affect surrounding structures and will cover a fenced area of 33×33 feet.
The one at Plaisance will be 36 metres high while others will range between 42 and 60 metres high.
According to APNU’s Norton, the objection is not that the tower cannot be built in Plaisance, but it should be located on a more appropriate site.
“There are a lot of available lands that they could buy…but it is clear that the government wants to dominate the people of Plaisance and we will have to mobilize the people to let them know that they can’t dominate the people of Plaisance,” Norton stated.
Prominent Civil Engineer, Walter Willis, who turned up at the site on behalf of the government, explained to this newspaper that he will be reporting the current development to the Project Manager with a view to having the matter resolved speedily.
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