Minister Patterson yesterday held two meetings with residents of the community. In the first meeting, Minister Patterson met with those residents directly affected by the airport expansion while, in the second meeting, he met with the general Timehri North community.
During the first session, the residents of the 19 affected homes were able to speak directly with Minister Patterson and voice some of their concerns on the matter.
Minister Patterson explained that the mass movement of everyone out of the area would “not be necessary”. Instead, he said, the homes directly in the path of the expected runway will be relocated, within the same community.
While he noted that the expansion heralded development for Guyana, Minister Patterson stressed that this development should not severely upturn the lives of Guyanese. He added that persons who would have dedicated their lives to the Timehri North community should not have to suffer.
The affected residents will be relocated some 200 metres to the west of their current locations. Construction on the identified plot of land has already begun and is expected to be completed in 2016. The developed area will be equipped with roads and utilities such as electricity and water while the homes will become the properties of the residents.
“This is the right thing to do,” Minister Patterson said. “If you move someone from his home, you have to ensure that you give something back. In a few years, these will be prime properties. Right now, you might be in this situation and think yourself unlucky but in a few years that feeling will change,” he stressed to the residents.
In return, a number of residents expressed gratitude and shared that their nerves were calmed since there were threats by the previous administration that the entire community would be removed.
Meanwhile, the second session with the Timehri North residents was also well received. During the meeting, Minister Patterson interacted with the residents and shared plans underway for the community. Amongst these plans were the regularisation of the community; inclusion of standpipes for improved water access; and the rehabilitation of the main road. He said too that there will be improved infrastructure such as roads, water supply, and electricity.
However, Minister Patterson said that while the Ministry will be working towards bettering the community, the residents must also do the same. He reminded them that the ultimate aim is to see the community become registered and he therefore urged them to keep an eye out for squatters.
“I’m not saying that the community cannot grow but I’m saying it must not be a Wild West,” Minister Patterson stressed.