Minister Edghill debunks inaccuracies about Independence Boulevard Project

Public Works Minister, Bishop Juan Edghill, on Friday, addressed a number of inaccuracies and racial undercurrents about the construction of Independence Boulevard.

He explained that the project was launched last month to enhance the 1.8 kilometres Independence Boulevard moving from Saffron Street to Cemetery Road.

Works commenced on Wednesday.

Minister Edghill noted that a conditional survey was compiled and submitted by  the ministry which included detailed information about the 13 residents living on the boulevard.

The contractors were urged to employ persons from within the community to work on the $1.8 billion project, creating employment opportunities for those persons.

The minister highlighted that work has been moving rapidly within the community to construct the boulevard.

“Written notices were served to everyone that is occupying the government reserve. And I would like to emphasise that the Punt Trench Dam or the Independence Boulevard is not transported land. It is not privately owned land. It is a government reserve. The government is using the government’s reserve to bring about an enhancement and development.”

Minister Edghill alluded to his visit on Wednesday where he engaged with the 13 residents individually.

“The first question the residents were asked was ‘did you receive a notice that you have to move?’ The second question was ‘have you applied for a house lot?”

Residents who applied for house lots were requested to present their documents. Copies were made and presented to the minister.

Minister Edghill said that on September 15, a letter including the names of the applicants was sent to the Ministry of Housing and Water to expedite allocation and make the necessary interventions for the 13 residents to be relocated.

Meanwhile, another letter was sent to the Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Dr Vindhya Persaud, about assistance for a resident, Miss Singh, who lives in a container and has no relatives.

“The Minister of Humans Services and Social Security, last night, engaged me on this matter.  As a matter of fact, today sent me a text message that officers went to visit Miss Singh about her welfare and about her being removed. Let me make it very clear, at no time at all. On Wednesday or any other time did I or any of the contractors or the engineers of the Ministry of Public Works threaten to bulldoze anybody? We were very firm people have to move,” the minister revealed.

The minister noted, “I cautioned a number of persons who I engaged about the statements that they were making  that were tantamount to race-baiting where there were suggestions that other ministers are looking after their people…I’m not dealing with race. I’m dealing with principles.

“Government took the high ground in engaging all 13 residents, including the lady in the container to offer the requisite help to get them where they need to go,” he emphasised.

Minister Edghill debunked claims that the ministry and engineers are threatening to bulldoze the houses of residents.

“The documentation and the evidence are clear and the only thing you can conclude is that the political types have seen the development that is taking place, went into the area whipped up political sentiments and created rhetoric that is based upon racism,” Minister Edghill expressed.  

The minister noted that this is a purely developmental programme since, “the property value will increase, the ambience of the area will be different, safety and security will be there, lights through the boulevard.”

It is evidence of the PPP/C Administration’s dedication to assisting every Guyanese as the nation continues on a development trajectory.