President Dr Irfaan Ali’s announcement of the construction of an international airport and stadium in the county of Berbice has been welcomed by the small Opposition parties in the National Assembly.
Deputy Speaker Lenox Shuman, who represents the Joinder List’s one seat in the National Assembly, has lauded the government’s plans as “nothing short of visionary”, while highlighting that they reflected 22nd century thinking and the country’s future needs.
Shuman said, in a letter to the editor on Monday, that “I support the establishment of an international airport and stadium in Berbice and commend the Government for being forward thinking…Currently, Berbicians represent the greatest population of Guyanese expats. In consideration of this fact, they are required to traverse across the entirety of the Berbice and Demerara corridors to get to the only international airport with direct flights to the US and Canada.”
He detailed that the journey that would take a person from Georgetown 90 minutes in moderate traffic would take someone from Skeldon over five hours in some cases, to get the Cheddi Jagan International Airport. By establishing an international airport in Berbice, it would benefit these persons significantly with consideration to a variety of factors.
“One need not look hard for the kind of energies and development that follow infrastructure. The US would not have been the global economic superpower had it not been for infrastructure. Canada, Europe and even our island neighbours are also prime examples of the kinds of development that follow infrastructure investment,” the Deputy Speaker added.
Shuman, who leads the Liberty and Justice Party (LJP), underscored that the airport would provide a critical node not only for international travel, but also for domestic travel and servicing the soon-to-be developed deep-water port.
“It will drive trade, commerce and further development while serving as a critical component to seeing a lot more Guyanese returning home. Where there may have been apprehension in the past with the long transit times from CJIA to Berbice for expats, they will be greeted with a step off the airplane onto their doorsteps thus bringing greater capital to invest in their local neighbourhoods. This will also serve to further fill hotel rooms and bring tourist dollars to the area that would otherwise struggle to compete with the Georgetowners. Traders and farmers will also have easy access to international transport thus decreasing the strain on the infrastructure in the capital with a domino effect of reducing traffic jams and costs to list a few [benefits],” Shuman said.
These things, he noted, are not things to be taken lightly in this competitive global environment. Coupled with a stadium in the east, it will drive the kind of sports development that Guyana has been lacking.
“Travelling through the neighbourhoods on the coast, one will notice a complete absence of premier sports facilities in the area. This project will now put Guyana in a better position to host wider international tournaments that can be spread across the country while inspiring our young athletes to be competitive at a higher calibre. Economies generally develop in lockstep with their infrastructure.”
The Deputy Speaker added, “Having travelled to a few countries and seen what infrastructure has done for those economies, I commend the blistering and urgent pace with which the Government is moving to address key infrastructural deficiencies in Guyana with an aggressive development agenda. It is a look into the future of the country and addressing those needs before they become growing pains.”
While the stadium is earmarked for Palmyra, the airport would be developed at Rose Hall and would resemble the Ogle International Airport.