…close to 15,000 residents benefited
More than 14,210 persons benefited from an over $832 million investment into Sophia over the years. Therefore, claims by President David Granger that the community has been neglected and faced with severe injustice over the last two decades are misleading.
This is according to former Housing Minister Irfaan Ali, who, during in an interview with Guyana Times, emphasised too that records show that over the years, the Government of Guyana, through the Housing and Water Ministry, has made significant investments in the Sophia area. The Ministry, under its Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) arm, had invested more than $832 million in the Sophia area.
Ali added that in 2004, the CH&PA had undertaken five major projects to the tune of in excess of $566.7 million for the construction of roads, drains and structures in Farmer’s Field, Plum Park, Block A, Block B, and Block C, Sophia. This investment saw services being given to in excess of 2960 house lots, benefiting more than 9129 persons.
The year 2005 saw Section D Sophia and Block F Sophia being upgraded with roads, drains and structures to the tune of more than $51.2 million. This investment serviced more than 510 house lots, bringing benefits to more than 2091 persons.
In 2010, the Ministry made a further investment of more than $214 million for the construction of roads, drains and structures in Section D, Sophia and Area R, Sophia. This additional investment saw service being provided to more than 730 house lots, benefiting more than 2990 persons.
“These investments totalling more than $832 million in the Sophia areas under the Central Housing and Planning Authority saw benefits going to more than 14,210 persons and more than 4200 house lots. This means that the Government would have invested more than $198,095 for every household in the above areas in Sophia. Taken further, it means that the Government would have invested more than $58,550 for every individual living in these areas,” Ali explained.
President Granger, during the commissioning ceremony of a new water distribution system in Sophia, declared that the people of Sophia had suffered “years of injustices” and painted the impression that the community was majorly deprived.
While addressing the crowd, Granger said, “Sophia had no water, people had to get black tanks, had to collect rainwater, had to buy water, had to get water from the trenches. Sophia had no good roads, just old plantation dams so as soon as the rain falls, it turns to mud. Sophia had no sewage, still has no sewage, you had to depend on latrines. Sophia had no electricity; everything was no – no electricity, people used flambeaux, people used to use car batteries to light up their homes, people had to use fire wood for cooking. There had no garbage collection, and when there is no garbage collection, people tend to throw their garbage in the canals. The canals get silted up and when the rain falls, it can’t drain properly.”
However, the former Minister reminded that the Housing and Water Ministry, under the Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI), has invested more than $400 million in capital investments for service to Sophia.
He further recalled that the major interventions within the project area comprised the construction of a new state-of-the-art Iron Removal Water Treatment Plant at Sophia, the construction of a new well at Cummings Lodge, and service connection upgrades and metering in Sophia (Farmer’s Field, Plum Park and Blocks A-D).
Ali noted that the objective outcome of these interventions was the improvement of quality and level of service offered to more than 30,000 residents.
He also pointed out that the new Sophia Water Treatment Plant, which was commissioned in 2011, is a state-of-the-art facility, which utilised modern energy-efficient gravity-type water treatment technology.
“This plant utilises a sodium hypochlorite generation system, which aids in the chlorine purification process. It is complemented by aerators and lime dosing systems which aid in the adjustment of concentration ions (acidity and alkalinity) content, oxidation tanks that facilitate the removal of iron via filtration and backwash lagoons. This new facility successfully serves the population in and around Sophia A Field, Sophia B Field, Bel Air and Prashad Nagar,” he explained.
Ali also highlighted that the well in Cummings Lodge, which was commissioned in October 2011, effectively serves residents in Sophia’s E to C fields, while the ongoing service connection upgrades and metering programme was geared to strengthen and consolidate existing service connections effectively reducing non-revenue water while boosting service levels.
The former Minister surmised that the total intervention within the Sophia area by the GWI was equal to a per capita investment of $14,000.
“Cumulatively, the CH&PA and the GWI, which together make up the Ministry of Housing and Water, have invested more than GY$1.23 billion in the Sophia areas,” he posited, completely debunking the recent utterances by the Head of State.