$80M for infrastructural development at Pigeon Island
…squatters to be regularised
President Dr Irfaan Ali on Tuesday led a team of Government Ministers into Pigeon Island on the East Coast of Demerara (ECD), where it was announced that Pigeon Island squatters will be regularised and that $80 million has been set aside for infrastructural work in the community.
The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government has for some time been embarking on outreaches across the country, allowing residents to come face to face with Ministers of Government and air their concerns.
And on Tuesday, the second anniversary of the Government’s tenure in office, was no different. President Ali led a team of Ministers into Pigeon Island that included Attorney General Anil Nandlall, Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha, Local Government and Regional Development Minister Nigel Dharamlall and Minister within the Housing Ministry Susan Rodrigues.
“The first two years, we did a lot of work reaching out and listening. But we also had to get the transformative agenda on the road. The big projects. And you’re seeing now that we’re turning the sod for all the big projects. So, by the end of this year, the transformative agenda will be well on its way,” President Ali said.
“So, while that is well on its way, we have even more time to focus on community development and people development. And that is the agenda. Here in this community, there are three priorities from what was communicated by you. One is the finalisation of the regularisation process. That is ongoing. And once we all cooperate, that will be completed by year end.”
Other priority issues are the road networks and the drainage issues in the community. President Ali explained that a sum of $80 million has been set aside for the necessary infrastructural projects.
“I want to say to you today, that we’re setting aside $80 million for the infrastructure development and upliftment of Pigeon Island. As I speak to you, the advertisements are out in the newspaper for the construction of new roads in the new area being regularised. These roads, we want to involve you in the development.”
“We want you to take responsibility. So, we are going to work to find the technical skilled people in this community. And we’re going to design a project in which we will give you a concrete service road in this community… when I leave here today, the technical people will remain. And they will work out with you how exactly (this will be done),” the President said.
According to President Ali, the Government will seek to involve the residents as much as possible in these projects. He said that the technical people have 72 hours to complete their designs for the concrete resurfacing of the community.
“So, they will be working in here, throughout the days and nights, to complete the designs. In about three weeks, the contracts for [the road] going up to the sea dam should be awarded. Within three, four weeks. That is separate from the resurfacing.”
Other initiatives for the community referenced by the President include a community job programme and improvements to the playfield. During the outreach, various residents also brought their concerns to the head table of Ministers.
Since coming to office, the President Ali-led Government has made it clear that it is aiming to fulfil its manifesto promise of distributing 50,000 house lots over the next five years.
The Housing Ministry has also said it would work with other State agencies to make more land available for housing development. Both Ministers Rodrigues and Housing Minister Collin Croal have said that the Government wants to ultimately eliminate squatting.