Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson in a press conference held on Thursday in the lower chambers of the Parliament building said that he does not intend the apologise to People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) Member of Parliament (MP) Irfaan Ali who provided him with a physical copy of an in-house CH&PA feasibility study regarding the East Bank Demerara to East Coast Demerara bypass road.
He added that the coalition Government commissioned its own study after coming into office since some of lands were sold prior to the PPP/C leaving office in May 2015.
During his budget presentation on Wednesday Patterson outlined a list of projects, which he claimed the previous Administration went ahead to undertake without conducting any feasibility study.
Among those, the Minister mentioned was the East Bank (Diamond) to East Coast (Ogle) Road Link Project.
“The former President, [Donald] Ramotar, went on a trip [to India] and they say here is US$50 million… and he give it to the Honourable Member Irfaan Ali (then Housing Minister) who drew up a plan and said we gon link this from here to here [with] no feasibility study, none… You can bring it or lay it here and I will apologise to you in public if you bring a feasibility study…” the Public Infrastructure Minister had said.
However, at the end of Patterson’s 30-plus minute presentation, Ali, a former Housing Minister under the PPP/C Administration, rose to the floor, indicating to the Speaker, Dr Barton Scotland, that a feasibility study was in fact done for the Bypass Road project and that he was in possession of same, as he waved his phone in the air to indicate the document was on the device.
Ali added too that he had shown the document to the Clerk of the National Assembly Sherlock Isaacs and offered to hand it over to the Public Infrastructure Minister.
“I have here a Government of Guyana Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) document 2014 – ‘East Bank/East Coast Road Linkage Feasibility Study’. The complete document is here! The Honourable Minister said there exists no feasibility study. I’m saying to this honourable House that this feasibility study exists and the Minister should do the honourable thing, as he suggested, at this time,” Ali contended.
The Opposition frontbencher then turned to Patterson telling him, “…You lied in the National Assembly!”
At that point, the Public Infrastructure Minister was on his feet but then sat down, as a verbal confrontation erupted between members from the two sides of the House.
The Speaker then said he was surprised at the turn of events as the day’s session wound down, before asking Minister Patterson whether he wanted the floor to speak.
In response, the Minister then muttered, “No, sir. I would not even bother, Sir because I have here in my hand, a bible.” He further added, “I was going to address but having something waving in my hand… is not proof of anything. So Sir, I don’t think I need to add anything else,” the Public Infrastructure Minister asserted.
Observers have since spoken out against the inaction of the Speaker who would usually reprimand the Opposition Members whenever he found their conduct wanting.