Apr 04, 2013 News
By Rehana Ashley Ahamad
The Government is now seeking an alternative location to erect its transmission tower to support its e-governance programme. Up until Sunday, this tower was to have been constructed at the Plaisance Community Centre ground on the East Coast of Demerara.
This change of heart came as a result of three days of protest by residents of that community.
The scrapping of the project was last evening confirmed by Project Manager of the e-governance programme, Alexei Ramotar, who said that his team will be seeking an alternative site for the tower.
He said that the decision to site the tower at Plaisance had many considerations, one of them being the decision to supply the community with a wireless service since Plaisance would have been one of the hotspots for the e-governance programme.
The e-governance project is one that is expected to facilitate the linking of Government’s fibre optic cable that has been laid from Lethem to Linden, to the coastline, to enable internet access. It will be one of 54 towers that will be erected in densely populated areas along the coast.
Ramotar said that the team wanted to avoid any charges of discrimination since towers would be established in other communities along coastal Guyana.
He said that proximity to the Sparendaam Police Station was another consideration. The e-governance programme would allow the electronic storing of information on cars, firearm licences, driver’s licences and other similar documentations.
The construction of the tower which was to be placed on the actual playfield of the Plaisance Community Centre Ground was being done by a Chinese contracting firm named Huawei, in collaboration with local subcontractors, and the blessing of the government of Guyana.
Huawei workers were forced to pack up their equipment and leave, following a protest by angry villagers, last Sunday.
Raw materials like the huge wooden poles remain scattered on the field, with a huge hole in the ground where the foundation was being laid a few feet away from the stand.
As of yesterday, the protest had grown considerably.
The residents of Plaisance, during their last picketing exercise, described this move by the Government of Guyana as “downright disrespect” towards them as a people, especially since they were never consulted.
The residents had suggested that the tower should be put where the old radio station was.
The people of Plaisance were seemingly determined to continue their remonstration, citing their community centre as part of their daily lives.
The facility not only facilitates fundraising activities and shows, but it also caters for school sports and a number of recreational activities for both the young and old.
The residents had said they have been honestly utilising and caring the facility ever since it has been handed over to them in the 1960s.
When asked if his team would consider another location in Sparendaam in the vicinity of the police station, Ramotar said that there were approaches for a plot of land north of the police station but that Central Housing and Planning Authority had contended that that plot of land was already allocated to Caricom.
Justifying the protest, Anisah Saunders, a school teacher of the community, said that apart from the night life activities, she was particularly concerned about the more important things like recreation for her students. She noted that such activities are just as important for a child as studying is.
The teacher explained that the Plaisance Community Centre Ground facilitates the annual school sports even beyond their community.
“This ground facilitates our school sports from Industry to Mon Repos. We have nowhere else to host these sports,” Saunders said. She added that their situation is the same as somebody invading their home and taking their belongings.
Meanwhile, members of the Plaisance Football team told this newspaper that should their ground be taken away, the future of their team will be worrisome, since they use the ground to practice almost every day.
“We are the East Coast Champions for “Guinness in the Street”, and we make good use of this ground every single day. It is not fair to us. People done get Plaisance as a bad place, and if them tek away this ground, it gon just get worse. The youth not gon get nowhere to occupy their time,” one of the footballer said.
Meanwhile, the residents were also worried about the health implications that the radiation emanating from the tower might have.
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