… 1 lucky applicant will win a low-income house lot on SundayThe Communities Ministry in collaboration with the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) officially on Friday launched “Housing Solutions 2017 and Beyond” at Perseverance, East Bank Demerara.The housing expo is geared towards providing low- and moderate-income earners, along with State employees and youths, the opportunity to access affordable houses in a modern setting.Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the CH&PA, Lelon Saul, underscored theAttendees at the Housing Solutions 2017 and Beyond launchimportance of the expo, noting that it provides options and helps the body to execute its mandate. “We are guided by Government policies which are in sync with our mandate to provide affordable housing for the working class. Our interest is not only in providing service lots but more importantly, creating safe, cohesive and sustainable communities,” he said.Minister with the responsibility for housing, Valerie Patterson said Housing Solutions focuses on the Government’s housing programme which seeks to improve the housing delivery system, especially to low-income earners.“The model village gives interested person a real life experience, you don’t have to use your imagination to see what your housing unit will look like; you can walk through the house and experience and interact with its design. You have a range of options from which to choose. The model village provides participating contractors a stage to showcase their products, designs, craftsmanship and newOne of the wooden duplex exhibits available for purchase after the expo closesbuilding technology. More importantly for us, it allows them an opportunity to partner with Government to make housing more affordable for Guyanese at a lower level of the economic scale,” Minister Patterson said.“God forbids that the asking prices for these houses should be prohibitive for the people we intended to reach, we reduced the cost of the house lots here in Perseverance for the model village. We reduced the prices from $500,000 to $300,000 for the low-income, $500,000 for the moderate-income and $700,000 for the middle-income. That was an attempt to assist the exhibitors to ensure that their prices at the end will be affordable,” she added.Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan said the occupancy rate of Government housing schemes developed over the past 20 years has plummeted below 20 per cent for the 38 housing schemes developed during the 2011-2014 period. He noted that those 38 schemes consumed more than 4200 acres of land, with an approximate investment of $13 billion and would require an additional $16 billion to complete the infrastructure. He added that that money is not available.“Land divestment is unaffordable for the State; this is why it is necessary for a higher density model to be pursued if we are to provide a higher model solution. Government buying itself will not achieve the success it wishes in the delivery of this housing solution, it will have to partner with the Private Sector in a robust open and transparent process,” the minister said.The CH&PA will be giving away a low-income house lot to a lucky applicant on Sunday night and encourages those who have applications in the system on or before December 31, 2016 to enter.
– as GEA says project to be complete by this year endIt was supposed to have been commissioned since last year, but with its completion date revised to 2019, questions are being raised over how well planned and effective the Mabaruma solar farm will be.Region One Chairman Brentnol AshleyIn an interview with Guyana Times, Region One Chairman Brentnol Ashley noted that the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) is unaware of any feasibility study having been done for the project, nor could he recall any substantive consultations with the community on the project.“A team would have visited my office as Regional Chairman and they would have related that they are there to seek the support of the RDC for the land space to construct the farm, because a farm was placed in the budget and an allocation was approved. So they asked for support in that manner, which we supported fully.”“Thereafter, there was no proper feedback or updates on what was happening at the farm, at the level of the RDC. It should have been commissioned since last year. But every time we’re hearing, in the next three months, in the next six months. And there’s no proper information being provided in writing or orally to the RDC.”While questions remain over exactly how the project was conceived, Ashley noted that from his enquiries, the project also has technical issues. According to the Chairman, there are challenges that include the storing of the solar energy, among other things.“We know they have a serious problem with compatibility. We are aware because the generator sets we have, were not constructed to deal with the eventuality of having such a project on board. We’re grateful for the project, but we’re concerned that hundreds of millions would have been spent but it will not provide the services it should to the people.”“Whatever project is being done by Government, any entity within a particular region, the RDC should receive a copy of the contractual agreement and the bills of quantity of that particular project, so we can help in the monitoring of that particular project while its being done. But we don’t have any such documentation. We’re at a loss when it comes to that.”Meanwhile, Guyana Energy Agency (GEA) head, Dr Mahender Sharma, who was at the time speaking at the Turkeyen and Tain talks, revealed that the project is expected to come on stream by this year end.“By the end of this year we would have installed more than five megawatts of new solar, on the rooftops of Government buildings and some hinterland locations and one of our first solar farms in Mabaruma.”However, Sharma alluded to the technical challenges that can be faced when looking to harness solar energy.“Five megawatts is a huge number in just a few years. But what’s wrong with solar? It’s not continuous. You engineers will tell you it’s not dispatchable. Its only there for a few hours and to capture it requires quote a bit of technology. You have to find a way to store it. And batteries are a big problem. They are still very expensive.”