Injunction halts construction of UG science lab at Port Mourant By Daniel Da Costa
Stabroek News
July 2, 2003

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Construction work on a multi-million-dollar science laboratory for the Berbice Campus of the University of Guyana at Johnís Port Mourant on the Corentyne has been halted by an injunction granted to the Berbice Bharati Saywah Sangha Society Inc.

The society is the owner of a plot of land that adjoins a plot acquired by the government for use by the Berbice Campus.

The Campusí main complex is located a short distance away at Tain which is also in the Port Mourant area, home to the late President Dr. Cheddi Jagan and a number of other outstanding Guyanese, including the legendary cricketer Rohan Babulall Kanhai.

The four and three-quarter acre plot at Johnís compulsorily acquired by the government a few years ago houses a one-flat building initially intended by the society to house a senior citizens home. It was here that the university decided to construct a laboratory for the Natural Sciences and Agriculture Science Departments. However construction work on the first phase of the project which began in January was halted just over one month ago. The first phase is being constructed at a cost of approximately $90 million that was allocated in last yearís budget.

According to a source at the Berbice Campus additional funds should have been allocated this year for the second and final phase of the project which was scheduled to be completed in time for September.

However a senior official from the Ministry of Education told this newspaper that some capital works have fallen under the axe because of financial constraints and the project is likely to be one affected by these cuts. Apart from this the injunction granted against the government will also have an impact on the scheduled completion date.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Marlene Cox this week confirmed that an injunction had been granted because the building under construction had allegedly encroached on the adjoining plot owned by the society.

The society has also filed a constitutional motion seeking adequate compensation from the government for the acquisition of the four and three-quarter acre plot. Stabroek News understands that the plot has been valued at $33 million but was acquired by the government for $1.

The state subsequently deposited $3 million at the Deeds Registry as compensation for the acquisition but the society has reportedly refused to accept the amount and instead moved to the High Court seeking redress. The piece of land allegedly being encroached upon by the building is said to be a two-acre plot.

At the moment science students attending the Berbice Campus are forced to use laboratory facilities at the J.C. Chandisingh and Lower Corentyne Secondary schools, considered by lecturers as inadequate. Others have to travel to the Turkeyen Campus to access laboratory facilities.

The matter is expected to come up shortly for hearing in the High Court.