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Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Guayana

Timehri residents were pressured to relocate for expansion of Cheddi Jagan International Airport. Homes and farmland were bulldozed and crops destroyed. Sand mining for construction caused dust pollution, damaged farmland and left large, dangerous pits.


In early September 2011 residents of Timehri, a community next to Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), were hopeful that they would attain land titles before the general election in November 2011. The national airport of Guyana was tagged for a major upgrade and expansion project and Minister of Public Works, Robeson Benn, said that the programme to remove all people living on and around airport grounds would continue. It was understood that the immediate area surrounding the airport was the property of the airport. On several occasions small and unfinished buildings had been torn down and there had been numerous instances of clashes between government workers and residents. The most recent clash, after people objected to the use of heavy equipment to level some buildings, had led to intervention by the army. In April 2012 Minister Benn stated that engineering studies for the planned airport works could begin by the end of the month [1].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Guayana
State or province:Demerara-Mahaica (Region 4)
Location of conflict:Timehri
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Ports and airport projects
Land acquisition conflicts
Building materials extraction (quarries, sand, gravel)
Specific commodities:Land
Sand, gravel
Project Details and Actors
Project details

On 11th November 2011 the Ministry of Public Works and China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) inked an agreement for a USD138 million design and build project to expand and upgrade Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) [1]. The cost of providing sand and other filling materials was not included in the contract, under which the government had to provide CHEC with the materials from within 12 kilometres of the airport. CJIA Chief Executive Officer, Ramesh Ghir, disclosed that the project would require up to 12 million cubic metres of sand. Provision of sand raised the project cost, of a runway extension and new terminal, to USD150 million [8]. The majority opposition parties did not support the airport expansion [13]. In August 2015 Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson said that Cabinet had provided provisional approval for continuation of the project. Following a week-long discussion the government reduced the project cost, capping it at USD23.6 million [14].

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Level of Investment for the conflictive project150,000,000
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:2,500
Start of the conflict:11/11/2011
End of the conflict:08/08/2015
Company names or state enterprises:Cheddi Jagan International Airport Corporation from Ghana
China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) from China - Signed agreement with Ministry of Public Works for CJIA expansion project on 11th November 2011
MMM Group Limited - Supervising consultants
CEMCO - Supervising consultants
BK International - Awarded contract for supply on 12 million cubic metres of sand for CJIA expansion project
Relevant government actors:Government of Guyana
Ministry of Transport
Ministry of Local Government
Ministry of Housing
Ministry of Works
Guyana Land and Services Commission
Guyana Defence Force
Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA)
Regional Democratic Council
Office of the Auditor General
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
International and Finance InstitutionsChina Export Import Bank (Chexim) from China - Guyana secured a USD138 million loan from the China Exim (Export-Import) Bank to fund the CJIA expansion and modernisation project
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Timehri North Citizens Development Committee (TNCDC)
Timehri North Development Council
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Land occupation
Media based activism/alternative media
Street protest/marches
Property damage/arson
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Food insecurity (crop damage), Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Noise pollution, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Potential: Global warming, Soil erosion
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Potential: Other environmental related diseases, Occupational disease and accidents
Other Health impactsIllnesses caused by pollutants emitted by aircraft
Health problems including respiratory illnesses caused by dust from construction works
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Violations of human rights
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:Institutional changes
Negotiated alternative solution
New houses were provided for 19 displaced households
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:About 2,500 Timehri residents endured four years of pressure to relocate for the CJIA expansion project. Homes and farmland were bulldozed without warning on numerous occasions and farmers’ crops were destroyed. Repeated demands for transparency over the relocation plan went unheeded. The community was subject to a constant police presence. People attempting to settle on the land were deemed to be ‘squatters’ and threatened with arrest and criminal charges. Sand mining and use of large volumes of sand in construction works caused dust pollution posing risks to respiratory health, encroached onto farmland and damaged local access roads. In 2015, following a change of administration, the airport expansion project was altered and only 19 households were relocated and they were provided with new houses similar to what they had lost.
Sources & Materials

[1] CJIA expansion will dislocate Timehri residents, Kaieteur News, 05/04/2012
[click to view]

[2] Timehri airport “squatters” reject Yarrowkabra house-lots, Demerara Waves, 13/07/2013
[click to view]

[3] Transport Minister meets with residents near CJIA airport, others protest outside, Demerara Waves, 28/08/2013
[click to view]

[4] Timehri residents protest relocation plan, News Source Guyana, 28/08/2013
[click to view]

[5] Timehri North relocation…Residents locked out of meeting with Works Minister, KNews, 29/08/2013
[click to view]

[6] Farmers on Timehri airport reserve worried over future-after contractor destroys crops, Stabroek News, 17/10/2013
[click to view]

[8] CJIA airport expansion to take 670,000 truckloads of sand, Kaieteur News, 11/09/2014
[click to view]

[9] Timehri residents concerned over “illegal” sand minding, destruction of roads, Kaieteur News, 21/09/2014
[click to view]

[10] Timehri North residents face new demands for relocation, Stabroek News, 23/12/2014
[click to view]

[11] CJIA expansion project…Timehri North residents prepared to defend property investments, KNews, 25/12/2015
[click to view]

[12] Works Ministry threatens to arrest, charge Timehri squatters, KNews, 17/04/2015
[click to view]

[13] Timehri residents destroy Works Ministry’s ‘no squatting’ signs, Demerara Waves, 29/04/2015
[click to view]

[14] Timehri residents will no longer have to move for runway extension – Patterson, Stabroek News, 08/08/2015
[click to view]

[15] Timehri residents yet to get word on property regularization, caribnewsdesk, 14/08/2015
[click to view]

[16] New houses being built for Timehri residents relocated by airport revam-runway expansion on target, Patterson says, Stabroek News, 09/07/2016
[click to view]

[17] CJIA expansion project, Stabroek News, 06/05/2019
[click to view]

[18] Gov’t to funnel $2.5B more into CJIA expansion, Stabroek News, 13/02/2021
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[7] Timehri North Pioneer, A caring government bullies its Black Farmers, 24/03/2014 (video showing sand used for airport expansion encroaching onto farmland)
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Rose Bridger, Stay Grounded mapping, email: [email protected]
Last update30/09/2021
Conflict ID:5645
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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