East Bank Road:
The East Bank Demerara Public Road was laid out early in the colonial days when all of the countryside was plantations and not the villages that abound now. Over the years, as the country grew, the original dirt roads were eventually capped and paved further and further from the city. According to the British Guiana Handbook 1922, the East Bank Road ran from Georgetown to Coverden at the time.
In recent years, the road has not deviated much from the path that was laid out before the turn of the nineteenth century, it has simply been rebuilt and resurfaced.
When the road was laid out however, traffic consisted of either carriage or foot making the proximity of the road to the river no concern. But as the years have piled up the Demerara River has encroached closer and closer to the roadway. This erosion of the river bank coupled with the enormous traffic loads and frequencies that the road sees today, has experts saying that it is only a matter of time before the road gives way with dire consequences.
According to Mr. Phillip Allsopp, “The road is bound to fail and it will be a scandal and a disgrace.” Allsopp has held the post of Chief Works and Hydraulics Officer in years past and has extensive experience in road and highway building and management.
He was at the time commenting on the $64M revetment works currently being undertaken at Craig. He noted that the works are just a temporary fix but the kind of loading that the road currently undergoes will eventually prove to be too much for the roadway and the river bank.
Allsopp also pointed out that if the government intended to have the East Bank Demerara Public Road serve as the final link in the proposed Georgetown-Manaus corridor which passes through Linden, Lethem and Boa Vista, then the road will definitely fail, resulting in a huge loss of face for Guyana.
The volume of commercial traffic that will utilise the road will be immense since the intention of the corridor is to create a shorter route for Brazilian merchandise seeking to access intercontinental shipping ports.
Currently, merchandise to be shipped out of Manaus, Brazil goes to Puerto la Cruz in Venezuela, a trip of more than 1,903km. If the Georgetown-Manaus route becomes a reality, businesses could shorten the distance by almost 300km.
Mr. Allsopp’s recommendation is that the Ministry of Public Works should divert the road away from the river or that an alternate link be made specifically to accommodate the heavier industrial traffic at a safer distance from the river.
At present, works are currently being undertaken to construct a timber revetment for an area at the Craig riverside. More than 300 meters of riverbank are being shored up during these works but there are concerns that this may not be enough. Revetments have been used in these areas for some time now but over a period of years they eventually fail through the action of the river.
A major issue of concern is that of rotational slippage that could compromise the structural integrity of the road. If the slip is severe enough, the revetments could give way simultaneously and see entire sections of the road sliding into the river.
Over the years, at least two sections of the revetment have slipped into the river.
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