PUBLIC Infrastructure Minister David Patterson said hinterland development is a priority as he addressed Indigenous leaders on the final day of the National Toshaos Council (NTC) at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre on Friday.
According to Patterson, for the 2017/2018 period, many projects have been embarked upon to improve livelihoods of the Indigenous People. Eight airstrip projects, for example, have been completed in hinterland regions through the Infrastructure Development Plan, Minister Patterson shared.
The completed airstrip projects include those at: Baramita, Region One; Ekereku and Kaikan, Region Seven; Paramakatoi, Kato and Kopinang, Region Eight; and Annai, Region Nine. The airstrip project in Eteringbang is 85 percent complete. Three more airstrip projects will be undertaken this year, while another six are slated for 2019.
Commenting on the quality of work done at one of the airstrips, however, was senior councillor from Paramakatoi, Sheri Balkarran, who shared that there have been issues with the drainage and other concerns. Patterson responded that her concerns were noted and will be rectified.
Answering questions from the leaders also, Patterson also shared that the ministry is seeking to move away from the use of the rooftop solar panels towards the use of ‘utility-scale’ solar farms. These are more viable because they are greater in size and are able to generate more power which feeds into a grid. According to him, 10 hinterland communities will receive these to improve their electricity supply.
“Small areas will be looked at next year. The solar farms will be large enough for all villages in one area,” he said, while explaining that President David Granger has already signed a US $15M line of credit with International Solar Alliance (ISA), for this.
A number of roadway projects have also been engaged in and more are slated for next year, the minister noted, but also said that the Linden to Lethem trail remains a bugbear that the government is working assiduously to remedy.
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