Properties are within the path of the new Demerara Harbour Bridge, with owners now reportedly reneging on agreed-upon settlements and demanding more. This state of affairs was relayed to the Commitee of Supply by the Public Works Minister, Juan Edghill on Wednesday night at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC), Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara, where legislators met to consider Budget 2024 estimates.

Posing the question on whether the budget caters for settlements/compensation to property owners was Opposition Member of Parliament and Edghill’s predecessor, David Patterson.

In response, Edghill said that Patterson has an interest in this issue because he is one of the evaluators advising the property owners.

Edghill said that some 40 residents had agreed to accept commercial properties at agreed-upon prices elsewhere during an engagement with the Housing and Water Ministry. However, during a follow-up meeting, prices suddenly “escalated”.

“I think that the distinguished gentleman (Patterson) asking the question is fully aware of that, because he has provided some of the documents with that new price with his signature. But monies have been provided in this year’s budget for the relocation of those residents,” he said.

Addressing concerned residents directly, Minister Edghill stated, “I want to say quite emphatically that the government of Guyana will uphold the law.” He reiterated that the compulsory acquisition process, under his authority as Minister of Public Works, would follow legal protocols, ensuring that every property owner is compensated at market value.

“If there is compulsory acquisition of a property of the public good, which will be done under the signature of Minister of Public Works, we will obey the Constitution, which says that you must pay market value and we will pay market value like we would have done with every other property owner that we have had to engage for the acquisition of property. So, there is no question about that.”

To expedite the negotiation process, the Attorney General’s Chamber has engaged legal professionals to finalize settlements and agreements with the affected individuals. Minister Edghill reassured the public that the ongoing process would be transparent and in accordance with the law. Once agreements are reached and signed by both parties, payments will be promptly made to the relocated residents.

“We have to get the right-of-way and we will follow the law and we obey the Constitution, and we will honour our obligations,” the minister assured.


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