NDC Chairman disapproves of EPA waiver for Trinidad cement facility close to ECD residential communities

- Chides EPA for lack of consultation; cites support for residents’ concerns

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Chairman of the Better Hope-LBI Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) Sheik Samsair has expressed his disapproval of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s decision to waive the need for an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) for the possible establishment of a cement bagging, storage and distribution facility in Le Ressouvenir, ECD.

The proposed facility is intended to be constructed at Tract A, Le Ressouvenir, ECD by Vista Trading and Logistics (Guyana) Inc, a company owned by two Trinidadian siblings, Vinush Dindial and Visanty Dindial.  Vinush is also the Director of Trinidadian company, VKD Transport Limited based in Couva, Trinidad.

Samsair, in an invited comment to the News Room, said that this location will be in an area that is “very much residential” and as such, he disapproved of the EPA’s decision to waive the ESIA.

Map showing the proposed location of the project (Source: Kaieteur News and Google Earth, 2020)

Due to the nature of the proposed facility, residents of surrounding communities – Le Ressouvenir, Happy Acres and Felicity- expressed their strong disagreement with the location, citing adverse health and environmental risks during a public hearing before the Environmental Assessment Board (EAB) on Thursday.

And Samsair endorsed the residents’ position.

“In those areas that they are living in, the residents would be affected health-wise,” he said.

The Chairman added: “We are in support of our residents because at the end of the day we are responsible for their well-being.”

Meanwhile, the Chairman also lamented that the EPA failed to engage in any consultations with the residents and as such, they were prevented from properly voicing their concerns. Contextually, the EPA is mandated by the EPA Act of Guyana to require an ESIA if any proposed developmental activity may significantly affect the environment, and if it chooses to waive the ESIA, it must place a public notice in the newspaper, outlining its decision.

Through this notice, affected parties can raise their objections about the EPA’s decision not to require an ESIA.

But, residents were disturbed that the EPA opted to place this public notice only once in a singular newspaper – the Guyana Chronicle – and as such, only one appeal was filed by Singer Guyana Inc. and Shahabudeen Ahmad through their attorney at law, Siand Dhurjon.

To this end, the NDC Chairman stated, “We were not consulted by EPA but I firmly believe that we need to have broad-based consultations with the residents.

But at the hearing on Thursday, the EAB emphasised that the purpose of the meeting was not to hear the residents’ concerns but only to assess technical evidence provided by the lone appellants justifying their objection to the EPA’s decision to waive the ESIA.

Samsair joined that meeting virtually and indicated that he was very concerned by the project and that many of the NDC Councillors were not in agreement. On Friday, he told the News Room that he hopes the EPA will take the residents “very seriously”.

Meanwhile, at Thursday’s hearing, Dhurjon stated that if no favourable solution is met, some of the residents will be instituting court proceedings against the EPA to protect their interests.

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