As the new administration continues to grapple with decades-old problems of zoning in
the country, at least one East Coast Demerara family is battling with a multi-national company over noise.
The case has brought to fore the serious deficiencies the current environmental regulations. In the case of Shameer Ali, a retiree, his life and that of his family has been turned upside down with the construction of a major distribution centre mere feet away from his home.
He has written the President, several ministers and even engaged Massy Distribution, the company in question. Despite some changes, Ali is insisting that he is still suffering.
Kaieteur News has attempted to speak with Massy’s officials on the matter, leaving telephone numbers but the Trinidadian-headquartered operations, which has several subsidiaries, has not been responsive.
According to Ali, he has been living with his family for years on the double lot at Atlantic Gardens, an upscale neighbourhood on the East Coast. One of the properties is a rental one with the tenants signaling intentions to move out because of the loud noise. Behind his home was Starlite Drive-in which has now been taken over by Massy.
Ali explained that in 2015, Massy erected a large building next to his home.
Since then, the noise from the generators and other equipment has been heavily affecting him.
He produced correspondence that dated back to April 13, 2015 in which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) noted problems with the location of an industrial generator; water pumps, compressors and other air condition equipment.
EPA acknowledged that the noise will continue to be an environmental issue. The agency said it has written Massy asking for a meeting to discuss steps to be taken to mitigate the noise levels of the equipment.
Following meetings of EPA, Massy was placed on a “Compliance Monitoring Schedule” to ensure that it takes steps to reduce the noise levels.
However, it appeared that Ali and his family remained unhappy and uncomfortable with the noise. On July 29, 2015, weeks after he entered office, President David Granger was written to by the family.
The President was sent pictures of the closeness of the business to the homes. The family complained generators and condensers were emitting excessive pollution. Ali said that he had written to EPA and even the regional authorities.
He insisted that there appears impropriety in the installation of the equipment and that residents were not consulted before the project.
Ali claimed that he and his family were suffering because of the current situation with the noise intolerable in his bedroom.
Ali, through his lawyer, Anil Nandlall, in August 2015, wrote the company warning them that they were in violations of the law and by-laws.
The warning letter was copied to EPA.
Ali said that it was during August 2015, that the Ministry of the Presidency wrote him back and said that the matter has been handed over to the Ministry of Communities.
Ali provided correspondence in which Luckhoo and Luckhoo, lawyers for Massy, acknowledged that same month that the matter was engaging the company’s attention and that it is the company’s objective to comply with the laws.
Ali said that his lawyer subsequently received another letter from Massy’s legal representative who said that the company is convinced that it has taken enough steps to correct the situation.
As a matter of fact, Luckhoo and Luckhoo said, his client has been engaged in continuous discussions with the EPA and a series of tests have been carried out by an independent Trinidadian firm.
Massy contended that based on the Guyana Standard Guidelines for noise emission, the company does not appear to have exceeded the guidelines.
The company, however, agreed that it will install noise reduction panels and other sound attenuation materials around the equipment in question.
Massy insisted that an exhaust pipe from a large generator was not breaching regulations.
Massy’s lawyers also pointed out in the letter that Central Housing and Planning Authority has classified that land occupied is a commercial and industrial area.
Luckhoo and Luckhoo insisted that their client has all intentions to meet standards established.
Ali said that he and his family can hardly watch TV when the generator and condensers are in operation.
“I don’t so mind that the breeze has been blocked to my home from the Atlantic Ocean. But the noise is intolerable. All we are asking is for the noise levels to be reduced. Ways must be found to do so.”
The issue between Ali and Massy is not anything new. The administration has announced plans to get tough on zoning to ensure residential areas are protected from commercial and industrial operations.
However, there has been little progress.
A government official made it clear that EPA’s regulations and other laws have to be upgraded as there are vague explanations with regards to noise and other pollutions along with zoning.
“Times have changed and we are entering uncharted waters. It is difficult for residents who have put millions of dollars into their homes to be faced with this. To be fair with Massy, they would have received permission. Was consultations done? We are not sure,” a senior government official said yesterday.
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