Without review from Assessment Board, new Harbour Bridge project stalled
For the new Demerara Harbour project to move forward, a decision has to be made by the independent Environmental Assessment Board (EAB) on whether an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is required.
But according to the Executive Director of the EPA, Khemraj Parsram, that process is stalled as the new Board is not yet in place. The life of the board expired in December last and the EPA Executive Director hopes that it will be reconstituted soon so that the project can move forward.
“When that body is in place, then they can start the review,” Parsram told the News Room on Tuesday.
The EPA had decided last year, after a rigorous screening process, that the new Demerara River crossing will have no significant impact on the surrounding environment and therefore, an EIA was not needed.
Citizens have, however, raised concerns about the environmental impact of this project but these need to be reviewed by the EAB before the project moves ahead.
Parsram acknowledged that the project will have environmental impacts, as like any other project, but he maintained that these will be minimal and can be easily resolved with an Environmental and Social Assessment and Management Plan (ESAMP).
That document outlines for the EPA planned measures to avoid adverse environmental and/or social impacts, to minimize them to acceptable levels or to compensate for them; including responsibilities (staffing) and schedule for implementing the mitigation measures, their technical feasibility, cultural appropriateness, and expected effectiveness in providing mitigation to all affected groups.
“The next step is to ensure through our permitting, that when the project is approved, that we will set the necessary safeguards to make sure that the impacts that are there, that they are not significant [and] will be managed and then we can have the project go ahead,” Parsram said.
The new Demerara Crossing is expected to land at Nandy Park on the East Bank of Demerara and Meer Zorgen/La Grange on the West Bank of Demerara and serves as a critical component of the government’s drive to expand and modernize Guyana’s transport infrastructure.
The high span bridge will replace the more than 45-year-old DHB with a modern four-lane structure that will facilitate greater traffic capacity and dramatically improve commuter convenience.