WBD foreshore ideal for modern base/port facilities

Dear Editor,
It has been reported in the news media that the Government has given permission to TriStar Incorporated, a US-based company, to develop a tract of land on the West Bank foreshore of the Demerara River in the vicinity of Versailles-Malgre Tout, and north of the bridge, to build an onshore base to service the oil and gas fields along Guyana’s northern coast.
The approved land for the base/port encompasses part of the foreshore which was overgrown with mangroves, and which had to be cleared for construction of the infrastructural works.
Mangroves stabilise the foreshore against erosion caused by wave action and tidal currents. Its habitat is also a breeding ground for fishes, crustaceans and mosquitoes. However, the proposed base/port area is relatively sheltered, and, without the mangroves, the erosive effects of wave action and tidal currents on the foreshore will be minimal, unlike those areas along the Atlantic Coastland.
The Government has to ensure that the cleared foreshore is protected with an adequately constructed river defence to protect the adjoining villages from flooding due to high tides now and in the future, as global warming takes its toll in rising river levels. There are also environmental issues which have to be addressed. Piles driven into the river for the purpose of mooring may cause its channel to change course and deposit sling mud into the outfall channels of the sluices upstream, thus blocking the drainage of Vreed-en-Hoop and adjoining residential areas.
The base/port will also cause traffic increases on the roadway and bridge crossing, and action has to be taken to upgrade those facilities to prevent chaos for those using them as well as the people living in the area.
This project is necessary for the economic development of Guyana, and the Government wisely approved its undertaking, but much remains to be done for its successful implementation. Guyana’s economy is on the upswing, and there is urgent need to modernise and expand port facilities to accommodate the increasing number of ocean-going vessels visiting the country. Georgetown’s port facilities are antiquated and overcrowded, and do not have the capacity to expand. However, areas on the West Bank of the Demerara River north of the bridge crossing have ample areas which can be developed for modern base/port facilities, particularly for the rapidly developing and lucrative oil and gas industries.

Yours truly,
Charles Sohan