Guyana assures of progress as World Bank advises urgency in moving vulnerable communities inland

The Linden-Soesdyke Highway

The Guyana Government has assured that works are in progress to move vulnerable communities inland even as the World Bank is advising that the country move with urgency to relocate its capital city in light of the growing threat of rising sea levels.

During a recent press conference, World Bank Senior Economist Julie Rozenburg was asked about the issue of relocation. Guyana was one of the countries the World Bank’s 360-degree resilience report assessed to be vulnerable to climate change.

Rozenburg explained that it was particularly important for Guyana to begin talks with most at-risk communities about relocating. In Guyana, this would likely include communities most susceptible to flooding.

“I would say it’s particularly urgent for Guyana. So, for the report we’ve modelled sea level rising impacting every country and clearly Guyana is a bit of an outlier in terms of how vulnerable it is to sea-level rise.”

“And I think right now the priority is to start talking to the most vulnerable communities that live in these areas. And see what could be options for them. See if there are resources to protect those areas. Or if people need to start thinking about moving elsewhere,” she contended.

But while Rozenburg highlighted the urgency of the problem, she also cautioned that this was not something that could happen overnight. Rather, it is a process that must ensure the involvement of the affected communities.

“You don’t relocate communities in a few years. It’s a very long process, for it to be fair to everybody and equitable. And sustainable. So, I would start this process now, even if se- level rises impacts will be seen in 20, 30 years,” the World Bank representative explained.

Weighing in on the assertions of the international economist, Senior Minister with responsibility for Finance Dr Ashni Singh assured that his government is moving progress towards the realisation of Silica City – a secondary city which President Dr Irfaan Ali intends to build along the Linden-Soesdyke Highway.

“I can tell you that work is actively ongoing on developing Silica City, and putting in the supportive infrastructure we need, including the roads and so on,” Dr Singh told media operatives on Wednesday.

“You would know that the President, in fact in his previous life as Minister of Housing, had initiated the very visionary concept of Silica City – a city that was going to be built in Guyana’s Hilly Sand and Clay Region, representing Guyana’s first major urban development in decades, outside of the coastal plain.

“So, we’re going to increasingly pursue developments inland, like, of course, developments on the East Bank where the altitude is a little bit higher unlike the frontline of the coast. And further inland, like the Soesdyke-Linden Highway… but this is a long-term endeavour,” Dr Singh said.

Since its return to office, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government has resurrected talk of building Silica City, with the Guyanese Head of State already revealing that international investors were eager to invest in the concept.