Residents ready to move, with fair compensation, to allow for construction of new Demerara Bridge
Residents of Providence, East Bank Demerara say they are ready to move, once fairly compensated, to allow for the construction of the new Demerara Harbour Bridge.
The law allows for the government to acquire private properties to carry out public projects. The residents are aware that where they live will fall within the area identified to land the bridge but they have not been formally notified yet that they will have to be moved.
However, the residents who spoke with the News Room said they are not opposed to relocating to a suitable and convenient housing area or to be compensated.
“We cannot stop progress but nobody told us anything as yet,” Elizabeth Ramjohn explained. She has been living in the area for the past 23 years; she is a pump supervisor and lives with her husband, two sons, and two other relatives.
“I just hope they can give us somewhere suitable where we can live and you know, give us compensation, so that we can build back what we have,” Ramjohn stated.
She lives just off the East Bank Public Road and said the area is very quiet.
“The only thing that affect us is when the rain falls and we get flood, that is the only thing,” Ramjohn explained.
According to her the government sign which reads “Site Reserved for Future Development” was erected about a year ago but they were not told they will have to move to allow the construction of the bridge.
The government recently announced that the new four-lane high-span fixed bridge will be constructed by China State Construction Engineering Corporation at a cost of US$256.6 million.
The new bridge will be elevated about 50 metres above the channel in the Demerara River. This will result in no daily retractions.
Additionally, the new structure will make an impact some 700 metres inland from the bank of the Demerara River. The landing will be in the vicinity of Nandy Park and the Ramada Princess Hotel at Providence. From there, a new four-lane road will also be constructed and will extend to the Diamond – Eccles highway.
Jennifer Bradford has been living in the community for over 40 years. She is now retired and enjoys her days at home looking after her plants and pet macaw. She told the News Room that she also does not have an issue with relocating to a comfortable and suitable environment.
“We have not been officially told anything, it’s just hearsay,” Bradford said.
Single father Dhanpaul Jagmohan explained that he would not be required to relocate. However, he is concerned about the health and safety risks once construction commences for the new high-span fixed bridge.
He too has been living in the community for over 40 years.
But Jagmohan reasoned that once completed, the new bridge will ease the loud noise which emanates from the current Demerara Harbour Bridge.
“It would be better than the harbour bridge; you does hear the noise hard hard in the morning hours.
“It is good what they doing because it is development in the country, you understand, we don’t have to study for bridge open and can’t go across, we can go freely – but they have to build it in a way to protect the people who live around the place,” Jagmohan posited.
According to Elizabeth Prashad, she met with the Minister of Public Works Juan Edghill last year, who told her that the residents would have been informed by September 2021 about the government acquiring their properties.
Prashad explained that she and her husband decided to put their house for sale with hopes of migrating to the US.
“If they want to move the house, we don’t have a problem once they pay us what we are asking,” Prashad told the News Room.
She is urging that the government treat fairly with the residents whose biggest assets would have to be acquired.
“If they would go fairly with the people that have their houses, they would have the land to run the bridge, it is a beautiful spot.”
Meanwhile, a daycare, the Guardian Angel Day, is also in close proximity to where the alignment of the bridge will land. Once construction commences, the daycare will have to be moved.
There are no properties that will be affected at La Grange on the West Bank of Demerara where the other side of the bridge will land.