HORRORS ON THE EAST BANK PUBLIC ROAD
Before and during the construction of the four-lane highway along the East Bank of Demerara, traffic snaked slowly during peak hours. The journey from West Demerara to the city took hours because of the high volume of road users on a then two-lane roadway.
The situation improved dramatically when the four-lane highway was completed. Persons no longer had to leave their homes early to get to work. The four-lane highway represented a great relief.
Those responsible for the country’s traffic management, however, ought not to have become complacent, because what we are witnessing now is a reversal to the same situation.
The lines on the Demerara Harbour Bridge from seven-thirty each morning are very long and the traffic crawls at the pace of a turtle. The problem is not a blockage of the roadways. The problem is the increase in the volume of traffic caused by the fact that more and more persons are owning vehicles and more and more persons from West Demerara are working in the city.
In addition to this, the government is continuing to allow increased housing settlements on the East Bank.
There is now a massive housing scheme at Diamond and there are also other private schemes established.
Many of the persons within these schemes work in the city, as do so many others from further afield, and thus this adds to the congestion each morning.
In addition, there is a development which ought not to have been allowed on the East Bank Public Road between the Harbour Bridge and Mc Doom. Ever since the opening of the four-lane highway, a number of businesses have sprung up alongside the roadway.
This is a problem in Guyana. Whenever a new roadway is built, buildings immediately prop up alongside the road, thus posing a problem, especially if the road is a public road.
A case in point is the bypass at Mahaicony where houses sprung up when the new road was being built.
On the East Bank Public Road there were already a number of business places.
When the four-lane highway was completed, instead of placing a halt on new business along the roadway which has no parking lanes between Mc Doom and the Harbour Bridge, the very opposite was allowed to happen.
New businesses were allowed to open and what is happening is that vehicles are parking on the sides of the inner lanes of the four-lane highway, thus impeding the full flow of traffic.
This is also unsafe because it means that drivers have to exit their lanes if a vehicle is parked within it. Accidents can result. It would help if two things can be done immediately.
The first is that there should be absolutely no parking between Mc Doom and the Harbour Bridge. Secondly, no permits should be granted for new businesses along the four-lane highway.
The existing businesses should be allowed to remain because the owners cannot be deprived of property and the gains from such property which were lawfully established, but expansion of businesses along that road should be curtailed.
These measures will help, but cannot eradicate the problem, because more and more vehicles are using the four-lane highway each day. Within the next three years we will have a terrible situation where persons living in West Demerara may have to leave home at least by 6 am to reach to the city for 8.00. This will cause massive production and economic losses.
What is needed is for an immediate plan to create industrial and businesses zones in West Demerara which would reduce the number of persons having to come to the city for shopping and work.
Unless greater employment and business opportunities are created in West Demerara, there will be an unmanageable situation in the country within the next three years.
The problem is that the very few available lands for such industrial and commercial development are being sold by the government and thus it is becoming more difficult to find lands. Such lands will however have to be found, and incentives will have to be given to investors so as to create employment within Region 3.
The same situation is going to develop further south on the East Bank of Demerara. Sufficient land has not been set aside in the Diamond area for a massive industrial and commercial zone, so as to create jobs, and therefore most of the residents in those areas have to seek jobs within the city, thereby compounding the problem with traffic management during peak hours on the East Bank Public Road.