New DHB: Govt issues eviction notices to Peter’s Hall residents after land acquisition talks fail

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
Minister of Public Works Juan Edghill and Minister within the Ministry Deodat Indar

The Guyana Government has issued eviction notices to over a dozen residents of Peter’s Hall on the East Bank of Demerara (EBD) after negotiations to acquire their lands for the ongoing construction of the new bridge across the Demerara River have failed.

In a statement chronicling the acquisition process, the Public Works Ministry disclosed that of the 21 properties that government was looking to regain, only six residents had accepted the compensation packages while the remaining 15 property owners have refused the offer, citing their dissatisfaction with it.

Among the offers in the compensation packages are a free plot of residential lot (commercial and industrial where applicable); monetary compensation to the market value of the resident land/ building; monetary compensation for crops, and accommodation affording the resident time to rebuild.

Nevertheless, with no progress made during the several engagements held between government officials and the property owners, Notices of Eviction were issued on Tuesday, May 7, 2024 to those 15 residents, informing them that they have to relocate within a month.

The notice, sent by Public Works Minister Juan Edghill to the 15 residents, explained that while engagements with them were unable to yield an amicable consensual financial package, Government is pressed for time given that the project is ongoing.

Hence, the decision to proceed with the compulsory acquisition of the properties in accordance with Sections 6 and 7 of the Acquisition of Lands for Public Purposes Act, Cap. 62:05.

“You were informed that in light of the failure to arrive at an agreement on the compensation to be paid, the Government will engage the High Court in accordance with the Act for a resolution of that matter. Therefore, Title to the property now vests in the Government…”

“You are aware that the Government owes certain obligations under the contract for the construction of the said bridge which requires the Government to deliver to the contractor vacant possession of the said property. As a result of the Government’s inability to discharge these obligations, the contractor is unable to access the area for works.”

“In the circumstances, and with sincere regret, the Government wishes to notify you that you are to vacate the said property within 30 days from the date hereof. If you fail to do so, the Government will be forced, as a matter of last resort, to evict you from the said property and demolish the same,” the notice, a copy of which was seen by this publication, detailed.

In May 2022, a US$260 million contract was signed with China Railway and Construction Corporation Limited (CRCCL) for the construction of the new bridge across the Demerara River.

The hybrid-designed bridge will feature a modern four-lane structure, cycle lane, with a 2.65 kilometers length, driving surface of about 23.6 meters and will have a lifespan of some 100 years.

This move by government to compulsory acquire the residential properties comes as the December 2024 deadline inches closer for the completion of the critical infrastructure.

Back in March, it was reported that the piling phase is approximately 38 per cent completed and would be completed within four months.

In addition to the ongoing foundation work, the contractor is also engaged in constructing two pre-cast factories situated on the East and West sides of the project site. These factories are specifically being developed to manufacture pre-cast beams for bridge construction.

Works on the new bridge started in May 2023 and currently has a massive workforce of 650 workers including 120 are Guyanese and about 85 Venezuelan migrants.