By Keeran Danny and Tiffanne Ramphal
Residents of West Indian Housing Scheme, Bartica, are demanding that management of Guyana Power and Light Inc. (GPL) rethinks its signaled intention of placing generators on a stretch of land designated for the scheme’s main access road.
In addition, there are concerns that this initiative would have harmful effects on the environment, with waste oil emptying into a nearby trench and noise pollution in the residential establishment.
According to resident Simona Broomes, GPL has proposed to locate portable generators at the head of the housing scheme, an area earmarked for the construction of the community’s access road. Further, the plot of land, which was intended to be developed into a community play park, was arbitrarily given to a religious organization
to build a parking lot.
Broomes said while she does not oppose GPL attempting to provide efficient power supply after years of continuous disruption, the power company could place its generators in its compound. In addition, she said GPL did not properly consult with residents and it was only when the area was bulldozed that residents were made aware of the company’s intention.
According to Broomes, GPL had a meeting with residents at which she was not present, but she spoke with the company’s engineer via telephone. She said that the Environmental Protection Agency did not carry out an impact assessment and GPL claims the generators would be placed there “temporarily”, but does not know how long this would be.
Broomes explained that the community was developed by its members comprising natives of the Caribbean, who came to mine in Guyana, years ago. It currently has one main road which is not wide enough to accommodate vehicles even passing each other. As such, community members have been requesting the ‘front dam’ to be transformed into the main access road as was the original intention.
Broomes stressed that residents are skeptical that GPL’s arrangement may not really be temporary and the development of the community would be stymied.
Of primary concern are issues of noise and air pollution which are possible effects stemming from the GPL’s proposed project.
“The reason why most residents like the West Indian Housing Scheme is its tranquility,” Broomes noted.
Residents, in a signed petition to the Interim Management Committee of Bartica, identified that as is customary, such generators should be located in industrial areas, away from communities. Among the concerns highlighted were the effects to health from carbon dioxide emission into the community and waste oil into the trenches.
The residents are of the opinion that a SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound) strategic plan, taking into consideration PEST (Political, Economic, Social and Technological) analysis, should have been utilized by GPL, to identify the impacts that their “potential development” would have on the community.
“Our opinion is that a SMART strategic study would have indicated the most suitable location for any portable generator.”
As for the piece of land that was designated for the community’s play park, which had been “given away” for a car park to be constructed, residents opined that they should have been informed of the development.
“The general opinion of the community is that any development in the area should be discussed first with the residents, hence this discussion will help to evaluate what the needs of the community are.”
According to the residents, the need for a community park is critical since “kids that live in the area play on the road, which is dangerous, due to the increase in motor vehicular traffic.”
The members of the West Indian Housing Scheme have made it known that they are strongly advocating for GPL to relocate its portable generator away from the residential area, and for information regarding any development to the community, to be discussed with the residents.
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