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Residents of Block ‘F’ and Block ‘R’ Sophia were in engaged in consultations as the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) moves closer to securing a loan which will facilitate community development in these and other areas.

 

– Senior Community Development Officer, Central Housing and Planning Authority, Donell Bess-Bascom.

Residents highlighted issues relating to inadequate drainage; poor infrastructure along with squatting with continues to be a longstanding issue in Sophia. Even as works are expected to be soon completed in these areas, persons were concerned about regularisation of squatters since most of them are squatting.

Andy Drepaul, a resident of Block ‘R’ Extension noted that he along with other persons are aware that the government is seeking to regularise the area but wanted an update as to when this will be possible.

Senior Community Development officer of the CH&PA, Donell Bess-Bascom, who led these consultations sought a response from the person responsible for this aspect, related that the process is still ongoing. However, she was unable to say when Block ‘R’ Extension will be reached.

Included in the project is drainage rehabilitation, it is expected that even as the programme is rolled out some degree of flooding is to be alleviated. Several residents have complained of severe flooding during rainy season. egularisation nding issue in Sophia.

CH&PA Engineer, Shaud Majeed.

Government has earmarked Sophia as one of the communities to benefit from the Road Network Upgrade and Expansion Programme. Under this initiative, $30M US dollars will be loaned to Guyana to conduct infrastructural upgrades in communities. Discussions are currently in the pipeline at the technical level with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to ensure that some works begin in 2018.

Bess-Bascom told residents that this programme will see the community benefitting from road and sidewalk construction, streetlight installation, upgrades to community grounds and building and will also provide subsidies for the construction of core homes as well as for home improvement projects.

She further explained that the approval of this programme is expected by December. “The project currently in negotiation stage. We will be signing off on this project by December so that is why we are talking to you now rather than after the project is signed.”

Bess-Bascom explained that the home improvement and core home subsidies will only be granted to eligible persons, “These subsidies, the core house and home improvement are intended for persons who have challenges in being able to afford to improve their living conditions.”

CH&PA engineer, Shaud Majeed further clarified what the core home project hopes to accomplish. “This is if you have a home which you have started, like you see most Guyanese do and cannot complete it, the ministry is now taking it upon themselves, with the help of the IDB to assist you to complete your home whether it be concrete or wood.”

Andy Drepaul, Resident, Block ‘R’ Extension.

Adding to this, Bess-Bascom disclosed livelihoods will be disrupted when the infrastructural works will commence. She cited examples of owners of roadside businesses not being able to efficiently carry out their day to day operations and drivers having to comply with diversions when the road construction begins.

Upgrades to community grounds basically include rehabilitation and installation of amenities such as spectator stands and washroom facilities which will allow residents of the communities to utilise the space for recreational activities.

Before the consultations came to a close, residents recommended that more meetings of this nature must be facilitated whenever there are plans to conduct infrastructural development to the area. They also suggested that all relevant sector representatives whether public health, agriculture, education or otherwise, must be present at these meeting to hear the concerns of residents.

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