Contractors have been dispatched and efforts to salvage the Linden to Lethem Road have commenced, even though heavy rainfall continues to persist in the hinterland region.
Users of the road were upset that enough maintenance works were not done during the dry season to avoid the road’s current situation.
Minister of Transport and Hydraulics, Robeson Benn has accepted this, but noted that from last year to date, the Ministry has spent millions in upgrading the structure. He added that the late start in road projects was as a result of the Ministry awaiting funds and awarding the contracts.
“It is true that some grading of the road could have been done in the dry season while some contracts were being finalised and the funding being sourced,” Minister Benn stated.
However, according to Naeem Mohamed, Hinterland Engineer of the Ministry of Public Works and Communications, contractors have commenced working on sections that were deemed critical.
He noted that Mekdeci Machinery and Construction Inc (MMC) has commenced works on the deterioration of 1,200 metres of road, 10 miles from the Mabura Junction, while Demerara Timbers Limited has undertaken the repairs of two collapsing log bridges that are in its concessions.
In addition, 10 miles from the Kurupukari Crossing at Iwokarama, BK International is expediting works to that stretch.
Mohamed stated that heavy rainfall and the backing up of the Pirara River are causing the Hunt Oil stretch to flood, and in some sections, water is overflowing. However, sections that were done last year during the rainy season are not affected, and water is being drained via the culvert.
In relation to trucks damaging the road, Minister Benn noted that engineers would be investigating the vehicle weight scale located at Linden since many persons have complained that overloaded trucks traversing the stretch are adding to the road’s deterioration.
Minister Benn pointed out that, “The road is taking a beating from overloaded trucks and the fail sections at two locations relate to bridges and culverts taking a beating from trucks driving off the bridges.”
He asserted that, “One has to think of what are the real natural causes of the current situation – the flooding and the heavy rainfall in the Iwokarama forest and the flooding that is happening now in the savannah portion… these are natural causes.
There are areas and countries including Brazil where properly built asphalted roads are being washed away. So all that we have so far is minor interruption and increased travel time.”
Confirming this was Albino, a Brazilian who recently arrived in Guyana. He noted that Brazil is experiencing heavy rainfall and the carriageway adjoining the Takutu Bridge on the Brazil side has caved in.
Minister Benn refuted accusations emanating from minibus drivers claiming that the Ministry did nothing on the affected Hunt Oil stretch.
“It is completely erroneous, the Ministry went out there and saved the road…identified the engineering and took its equipment and the contractor equipment there… it wasn’t Dalip’s (contractor) work as such. It was the Ministry’s work, the contractor moved volumes according to the Ministry, so it wasn’t Dalip’s work,” he emphasised.
In relation to employees being accused of catching fish instead of working on the road, Minister Benn stated, “Between Good Hope and Karasabai, we had mechanical problem with the equipment, and after awhile we withdrew the equipment. It was not intended for the equipment to be out at that section of the road doing all that it did.”
The economic impact of the road in its current form is already being felt, with Intra Serv, a bus service from Georgetown to Lethem, closing its service temporarily.
Minister Benn has confirmed that all hinterland areas and economic activities including mining have been
According to Alfred Ramkarran, President of Rupununi Chamber of Commerce, the impact of the flooding is not being felt as yet, since stocks prior to the flooding are on the shelves. However in another week or two, prices may increase, as items may be sourced from Brazil if the road is closed to trucks.
Ramkarran explained that even if 4×4 vehicles can traverse the stretch, items will also be expensive, taking into consideration fuel consumption and the number of times they would have to journey to bring goods to Lethem.
He noted that a major concern in the district is fuel. It was noted that the power station is heavily dependent in this regard. Last year, to meet the power station’s needs, fuel was shuttled to the area.
However, the weather has not put a damper on tourism as those interested in adventure tourism are making the most of the situation. Ramkarran recalled that earlier yesterday he interacted with a young tourist who took two days to travel from Georgetown to Lethem.
Government awarded three contracts totaling approximately $193M to carry out maintenance works on 265 miles of the Linden to Lethem roadway earlier this month.
The Ministry has expended approximately $100M within last year to date in carrying out maintenance works along the roadway.
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I have been doing columns since 1988. I have been a major columnist with the Catholic Standard, Stabroek News, Kaieteur... more