East Bank Berbice road shut down as estate trucks get stuck in craters
….frustrated residents protest conditions again
By Leon Suseran
The East Bank Berbice Road was again shut down yesterday after a Guyana Sugar Corporation estate truck transporting workers to the cane fields, became stuck in one of the huge craters. This occurred around 05:15 hrs.
Traffic came to a halt and long lines of vehicles were visible from Heathburn to Edinburgh, the worst section of the road stretching for about a mile. Workers were seen walking out of the area, some having to travel to New Amsterdam.
It was the second time in a week that a heavy duty vehicle had stuck in the huge craters.
Last Wednesday, a major catastrophe was averted when just after 13:00 hrs, two cement trucks transporting cement out of the Caricom Cement Company bagging facility at Everton ended up in a gigantic crater along the roadway.
The two vehicles were leaning precariously with all the cement. As a result, the entire roadway was blocked and traffic in and out of the East Bank villages was paralyzed. Long lines of vehicles remained for hours on the road until the trucks were hauled out of the craters several hours later.
A grader was also, at the time, in the process of executing remedial works on the stretch of roadway in the vicinity of Glasgow, just metres away from where the two trucks became stuck.
Yesterday’s catastrophe again struck a nerve amongst disgruntled residents who flocked the road. Tempers were once again high.
On February 21, last, drivers and residents shut the road down. For years, the government has been spending huge sums of money to rehabilitate the roadway which would quickly deteriorate afterwards, but the residents and drivers in February said that “enough is enough”.
On May 5, President Donald Ramotar, during a visit to Plantation Highbury for the Arrival Day observances told residents, “I know from experience and I know from our own constituents who complain to me– and I know today by coming in to this village here– that your road is not in a good state”.
When he said that, the crowd gave a huge applause. Mr Khemraj Ramjattan, leader of the Alliance for Change, who was also in the audience and whose party had stood in solidarity with taxi drivers and residents when they had shut the entire road down a few months ago, smiled.
Promises, promises and more promises; these were the sentiments expressed by residents and hire car operators yesterday. Old wounds were reopened and frustrations with the conditions of the 25- mile stretch of road from Overwinning to Mara heightened. They could not be appeased. They wanted no other person to answer but the Minister of Public Works, Mr Robeson Benn.
One estate worker, who was in the truck that got stuck, said that “this road is a health hazard!” “With people lives being endangered, like nobody ain’t gonna do anything! I could remember the residents protest about this road and from then to now, nothing has been done! Yesterday afternoon, this truck nearly toppled with us in this same hole, so nobody ain’t doing nothing!”
Another concerned resident complained that every day the road is a problem “and unless something serious happens here, like nobody ain’t gonna come and do something…we ain’t waiting for that!”
Alliance for Change representative Lionel Howell descended on the situation yesterday and was furious for the continued sufferings of the residents.
“They (the government) should realise that a bad road affects the economy; it affects the livelihood of our citizens and they ought to do something! I was called here by the residents and I sympathise with them, and they are asking us from the AFC to stand up for them and we intend to do that! We need action! The economy– just look down– we have about ten cane farmers’ trucks that cannot pass; what happens to the industry?! It’s affecting the economy and we need action, when? He asked the crowd and they responded, Now!! Now!! Now!!”
Regional Vice Chairman, Bhopaul Jhagroo then arrived a few minutes later and tried to appease the crowd. He was swarmed by the media and irate residents. He promised them that remedial works will begin immediately on the road later Wednesday. But his comments were hardly met with any approvals from the angry mob.
Regional Chairman, Mr David Armogan, when contacted, stated that he too is fed up with the road situation. The Ministry of Works, he said, has taken over the project and the ball is in their court. He said that stemming from yesterday’s incident, he has given a small contract to Kris Jagdeo contractors who will fill up the major holes with crusher run, but nevertheless said that the more major works to be executed will have to be done by the Ministry.
He tried making contact with Minister Benn yesterday morning but could not. “I don’t know what more to tell the people (of EBB) because my hands are tired…and this is strictly a project with the Ministry of Works”.
“The people must become frustrated”, he contended since “I myself am awaiting the Ministry to start works on the road”.