Dec 01, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – The New River Bridge across the Demerara River, meant to replace the decades-old existing two-lane facility, is not expected to cause extensive environmental impacts during its construction, but a number of homes in the area of Nandy Park, East Bank Demerara (EBD) will have to be acquired by the state.
Accordingly, the Ministry of Public Works, which is overseeing the construction of the new facility, it has since been cleared by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from having to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).While outlining some environmental impacts said to be negligible, such as noise and some dust pollution during construction, it was noted that an initial assessment of the proposed alignment on the eastern bank of the Demerara River shows that approximately 24 lots of land may be acquired.
According to the EPA’s screening report, in determining whether an EIA was warranted or not, it was pointed out that approximately 10 of the plots that will have to be acquired have concrete/wooden structures erected on them.
The report did indicate that there are no properties to be acquired on the western bank of the Demerara River.
According to the EPA’s screening report, “when it becomes clear which properties will be affected, it has been proposed that property owners will be engaged for voluntary acquisition at fair compensation in keeping with the acquisition laws of Guyana.”
It was noted, too, that there has been initial consultation with residents “who welcome the project and subsequent to consultations, a voluntary relocation/resettlement plan will be required and developed.”
According to the EPA, “these impacts are certain to occur, but due to the small number of households to be relocated and the legal and consultative process to be followed by project proponent(s), the overall significance is therefore considered low and not potentially significant.”
Additionally, it was noted that the bridge will pass close to approximately 40 households in Nandy Park and Providence and that the “impacts will be neutral to minor, as there are existing roads and similar traffic volume and flows in the general area.”
The EPA in its pronouncement did say, “…this impact though certain to occur, the overall significance or risk is therefore considered minimal.”
Other impacts flagged by the EPA relate to the need to remove approximately 2,360m2 (47.2m x 50m) of mangroves located mainly along the west bank of the river which may be impacted by construction activities.
While mangroves are identified as a protected species, the EPA said, there are no endangered animal species in the area and that “this removal is considered negligible as impacts will be minimal and localized, since the area is already impacted by human activities and removal will be limited to a relatively small area and localized.”
As such, the EPA determined, “these impacts are certain to occur during construction and operation, but the overall significance or risk is therefore considered medium.”
As it relates to socio-economic impacts, the EPA observed that there will be increased land use within proximity of the bridge, as enabled by shorter traffic time in road and marine traffic by reducing bottlenecks currently faced by commuters when they use the existing two-lane bridge. “This will foster increased activity in surrounding communities. In the operation phase of the bridge, positive influences are expected, especially regarding economic development, communication, and the transportation of goods and people.”
To this end, it was concluded that the overall significance of environmental impacts of this project are considered to be low to medium and manageable from a technical, social and financial point of view.
As such, it was also determined that the overall social impact of the project will be positive and “therefore, this proposed project is exempted from the required assessments that are usually conducted by the Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA), as set out in section 11(2) of the Environmental Protection Act, Cap. 20:05, Laws of Guyana.”
It was noted however, that while the EPA has exempted the project from the requirement of an EIA, “it is recommended that an Environmental Social and Management Plan (ESMP) be prepared for this project.”
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