Removing West Bank mangroves necessary; structures already installed to guard against flooding – Edghill
The removal of mangroves by Tristar Inc. at Malgre Tout/ Versailles, West Bank Demerara is necessary to set up a shore base, but mitigating measures have already been put in place to prevent flooding, Minister of Works Juan Edghill said Monday afternoon.
Edghill told the media that the removal of the mangroves was necessary to support the new wave of development initiated by the discovery of significant amounts of oil and gas offshore Guyana.
“Development along the Demerara River to facility the new wave of development will mean mangroves will be displaced… that development shouldn’t be sabotaged, it should be encouraged,” the Minister said.
During a press conference at his Wrights Lane, Kingston, Georgetown office, Edghill in defence of the development said the mangroves were cleared after the all necessary processes were followed. He also assured that hard structures have already been installed to guard against flooding in the absence of the mangroves in that area.
“Hard structures will be built to mitigate flooding and protect that property and all the properties nearby from any flooding.
“So the issue is not flooding because the adequacy of hard structures is in place.”
“Development comes with changes,” he added.
Joined by Minister within the Ministry, Deodat Indar, Edghill said the People’s Progressive Party government regards the issue of climate change and flood protection seriously.
But even against this backdrop, the Minister said people must now realize that Guyana is an oil producing nation and development needs to take place to support that.
Edghill said Tri Star Inc. was spending $100 million to set up the facility which he believes is necessary in the context of local content and job creation in Guyana.
“This facility is fully owned by a Guyanese from Region 3. A Guyanese that has done well overseas and came home, applied and got the necessary permits to help with Guyana’s infrastructural development and at the same time provide adequacy for oil and gas and is part of job creating mechanism,” he added.
Putting to rest concerns that the company has cleared mangroves in portions of lands that was not approved by the Sea and River Defence Board, Edghill said the company is properly empowered to set up the facility based on a license granted and a lease it secured.
He said the relevant authorities including the Sea and River Defence Board was notified since March about the acquisition of additional properties.
Edghill projected that just as the eastern section of the Demerara River (Georgetown/ East Bank Demerara) has been transformed over the years with mere patches of mangroves remaining, “the people of West Demerara deserves the same.”
“There will be other shore base and we are not going to apologize for that because we want the jobs in Guyana and not Trinidad and Texas… Development comes with a price,” he added.
Edghill said the Sea and River Defence Board was under no political pressure to grant Tristar Inc. approval.
He also pointed out that the “willy nilly” destruction of mangroves remains illegal.
While wrapping up the press conference the Minister invited the critical political opposition and other environmentalists to partner with the government to move development forward.
“Don’t let us be prophets of doom.”