Standing two stories tall and located near the Whim Police Station, just a few kilometres from the Whim Public Road is a spanking new edifice constructed at a cost of $32M.
The building is the first Environmental Protection Agency Branch (EPA) in Berbice and will now allow persons easier access to their services rather than travelling all the way to Sophia, Georgetown.
At the simple ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, Executive Director of the EPA Dr. Vincent Adams, EPA Board Chairman Dr. Patrick Williams and President of the Central Corentyne Chamber of Commerce Mohammed Raffik, emphasis was placed on the convenience the new structure has provided for the people of Berbice.
Minister Harmon, as he gave his brief address to those gathered, posited that government services are being made available in such a way that, “it gets closer and closer to where people live and work”. He added that over the years, it was a hassle for persons to travel all the way from Berbice to Georgetown, but with the new office
now open, “that will be a thing of the past”. According to Harmon, the construction of the building is a foundation set
by the Government for the expansion of the EPA and its services, since it is the first regional office in the country.
He added that only recently, they were looking at ways and means of having the agency as a self-financing entity, “to be able to provide the quality of life, not only for the Guyanese people but for the staff of the EPA in particular, because if you want to attract people of a certain quality, if you are going to be assessing, if you are going to be ensuring that the laws and regulations of the country are actually observed then you have to have people who can, in fact, understand what these laws are and how do they implement it”.
Meanwhile, Executive Director of the agency, Dr. Adams stated that since the establishment of the EPA in 1996, over 1200 permits countrywide were authorised. He explained that one of the major challenges was “getting out there, applications come in but then we’ve got to go out there and verify the applications to make sure the operations can meet the standard of the permit condition to operate, but even after that, we have to go back out there and routinely inspect the operations so that we can maintain a safe and environmentally sound operation”.
The Central Corentyne Chamber of Commerce president, Mohamed Raffik noted that the EPA in his opinion “is extremely important” since there is now a booming oil and gas sector. With such major development, comes along expected oil spills and as such, the country is dependent on the agency to ensure that Guyana is protected, he said.
Services at the agency in Berbice will commence on May 6.
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