Don’t blame Linden for Amaila Falls road
The protest action that started in Linden on July 18, last, is being blamed for many things including the decline in mining activities in Guyana’s goldfields, the hardships that people in the hinterland experienced when shipments of food and fuel could not reach them and of course, some of the criminal activities that took place in the mining community.
Today, the Linden protests are being blamed for the delay in the completion of the Amaila Falls road project. This project was shrouded in controversy from its inception. The award of the contract was met with skepticism because everyone knew that the contractor had never constructed anything close to a road.
After more than a year the government came to its senses and revoked the contract. The road should have been completed within eight months. When the contract was revoked more than a year after it was awarded less than thirty per cent of the road had been cleared.
The government split the contract and consigned the various sections of the road to individual contractors. New deadlines were set but none has been met so far. Instead, the government allowed them to proceed at their pace. There was no hurry. That changes today when the government signs off on the loan agreement with the Chinese Bank.
None can deny that had it not been for the protest action there would not have been the fires that destroyed the properties; there would not have been the three deaths that further exacerbated the protest and for sure the government might have found something else to do with the $80 million that it has forked out to facilitate an investigation into the disturbances and the deaths.
We know that fuel and food could not pass through Linden which had become the gateway to the hinterland, replacing Bartica which was accessed by the Essequibo River. Linden has become strategic; it is the location through which the road from Brazil will pass. So influential has Linden become that when the protest erupted and then prolonged, President Donald Ramotar remarked that the financiers of the road from Brazil might be having second thoughts about passing the road through Linden.
What was the most significant destruction in Linden was the One Mile Primary School which went up in flames. Someone failed to recognize the importance of education.
As far as the hydro project road was concerned, it should have been completed a long time ago. The nation was led to believe that with each day the cost of the entire hydroelectric project would have become more costly.
President Jagdeo even said that to reduce the cost of the entire project Government was funding the road. And the money would have come from the Norway Fund which offered so much hope to the nation.
The funds have come from the public treasury but the road continues to lag. Linden is now being blamed for the delay. Sadly for those playing the blame game, the Linden situation lasted only one month. The road is more than a year behind schedule.
We now understand that it could be two more years before the road is completed although this sounds farfetched. We know that equipment used by one of the contractors on the road has been seized so that too is contributing to the delay in construction.
In most countries where a lot of money is involved, the government would bring in the most professional contractors. This was the case when Guyana constructed the Soesdyke/Linden Highway. It was also attempted when Guyana undertook to construct a new Essequibo Coast road. The same should have been done for the Amaila Falls road.
The nation knew what the size of the original contract was. It does not now know how much the road would now cost.
To seek to blame Linden for any delay is to attempt to pull wool over the eyes of the Guyanese people. There has been no attempt to expose the nation to the road. More than a year has passed since the promise was made to take the media to visit the road project. It remains shrouded in mystery.