Hostile reception for Housing Minister as officials of illegal concrete plant served 3rd Contravention Notice
Minister of Housing and Water, Collin Croal was on Tuesday met with aggression and asked to remove himself from a property adjacent to South Ruimveldt Gardens in Georgetown where an illegal concrete facility is being set up on a portion of land facilitated by Guyanese, Andrew Mekdeci, and which is leased from the owner, Michael Vieira of Houston Estates.
The minister along with the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA), Sherwyn Greaves, had accompanied other officials from the ministry to serve a Contravention Order after two failed attempts previously to stop the unapproved operation.
The company which is setting up the plant – Superior Concrete Inc – had at least two of its three Directors who are all foreigners – Ian Jones, Richard Shamlin and Maxwell Snow – present when the Housing officials arrived.
The government minister, who was accompanied by his public relations team and members of the media, was asked by Richard Shamlin, who became aggressive upon the ministry’s entry, to leave the premises.
“This is private property and I’m happy to meet with you guys but we are not going to have a meeting if you don’t ask the media to leave.
“It’s time to leave now… no, no, no this is private property,” Shamlin could be heard saying to Minister Croal.
While the Contravention Notice was received by Shamlin, he gave neither the minister nor the officials any opportunity to speak. Shamlin jumped into his car and drove off soon after.
Croal, in brief comments to the media, explained that the CH&PA intervened after it received several complaints from residents about the construction of the concrete plant. He said an initial investigation found that no application was made for approval and neither was any approval granted by the agency.
Croal said when the first Order was served, it was discarded by Jones upon delivery. Although the Order instructed that operations cease until proof of approval can be provided, works continued at the site.
A second Order was served three days later on May 8, 2021, but had to be posted at the location because no one was on site to receive it.
“To have an investment of this nature without first seeking approval… no application was made and then when our team came to serve, the hostile environment and disrespect to our officer will see us now having served the third Contravention Notice taking the necessary steps and actions required legally for us to ensure this enforcement,” Croal said.
He was backed up by Greaves, who said that other agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) have also not granted any approval.
“The disrespect to the staff of CH&PA, I will not tolerate as CEO, because there is a process, follow the process.
“One of the important aspects of the process is engagement with residents who are appalled because they weren’t consulted.
“They [the company] have been issued with a cease and desist order, which means they can’t do anything else, and we will be following to ensure this is adhered to,” the CH&PA CEO said.
The News Room understands that the facility is being set up by the three foreigners, to be operated on a portion of land facilitated by Guyanese, Andrew Mekdeci, and which is leased from the owner, Michael Vieira of Houston Estates.
The High Court on May 7, 2021, also entertained an application for an injunction, made by other landowners in the area, asking for the Court’s support in resolving the matter. The respondents named in the court documents were Michael Vieira, Andrew Mekdeci, Superior Concrete, Central Housing and Planning Authority, Environmental Protection Agency and the Mayor and City Council.
Additionally, residents say dozens of trucks, some of which belong to the Mekdeci Mining Corporation(MMC) whose principal is Andrew Mekdeci, are now traversing the streets on a constant basis. The road is now in a deplorable condition; it was recently repaved in the last few years.
Editor’s note: This story initially identified Ian Jones as the director who was hostile towards the Housing Officials, however, we’ve since confirmed that the individual in question is Richard Shamlin.