Mabaruma Town Council awaits expert advice on cutting down of century-old rubber trees
The Mabaruma Town Council is awaiting a report from experts at the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) on whether the century-old rubber trees that line Philbert Pierre Avenue in its township are a threat to citizens.
This is according to Mayor Chris Phang, who told Guyana Times that the Town Council and Regional Administration are presently engaging the Public Works Ministry and the GFC on the way forward.
The trees were scheduled to be removed on January 27, 2021, to facilitate a road project which started under the previous APNU/AFC Government.
However, following mounting public outcry, Local Government and Regional Development Minister, Nigel Dharamlall intervened and ordered that the cutting down of the trees must be halted until another consultation is held.
Minister Dharamlall also instructed the Mayor and Town Council and Regional Chairman to publicise the findings of the previous consultation report and to engage the Public Works Ministry to have the engineers come up with a solution to have the road constructed with the trees intact.
Mayor Phang, however, explained that another consultation on the cutting down of the trees is likely to be held in the coming week among stakeholders including residents from the town.
He is hoping that the report from the GFC will be completed and dispatched to the Town Council as soon as possible since it would assist in the consultations.
According to Mayor Phang, a similar consultation was held under the previous APNU/AFC Government and the majority of persons voted in favour of having the trees removed. He further explained that persons residing in Mabaruma are aware that the trees have outlived their time.
He explained that branches are falling from the trees which pose a threat to citizens as the trees are located on the main access road, next to public offices. He recalled an incident in which one of the branches fell into the churchyard, but fortunately, no one was injured.
Reports are that the road project has already commenced but has not yet reached Philbert Pierre Avenue.
Despite protests from residents, the Mabaruma Mayor and Town Council had informed road users that the tree cutting exercise would begin on the morning of Wednesday, January 27, 2021, and end around 14:00h.
This led to an online petition urging the township’s Mayor and Town Council to reconsider what was described as a “poor decision” of having the trees removed. The original petitioner stated that the trees are iconic and meaningful to Guyanese everywhere, as well as foreign visitors.
As such, calls were made to the relevant authorities for the trees to be preserved. The petitioners have insisted that there is another route to facilitate the desired road expansion without cutting down these trees.