Jan 12, 2012 Letters
I would like to bring to your attention a few errors in the last paragraph of your article titled “Two local Contractors to help “Fip” finish US 15.4M road” dated Jan 8th.
You state “Access (Amaila site) is also provided overland by an all-weather road through Tumatumari on the Potaro River and on to Mahdia and Kangaruma”. You also state “The road from Tumatumari was recently extended to Mahdia/Kangaruma etc etc”.
These statements are incorrect.
If you were to consult The Map of Guyana compiled by the Topographic Division of the Lands and Surveys Department you can’t help but notice that access to Mahdia was originally provided by the Bartica/Potaro Road which was built in the mid 1930’s.
Hearsay credits construction of the road to Jock Aldee (not sure about the spelling) who incidentally is buried at Sorrow Hill in Bartica. Rumour has it that when Governor Denham visited the site to open the Denham suspension bridge (which carries the road across the Potaro River at Garraway Stream,) Aldee responded to the Governor’s enquiry about local labour by stating “the small ones are too weak and the big ones too lazy”!
The map shows that access to Tumatumari is via a short branch road from the Bartica/Potaro Rd on the North bank of the Potaro. This branch road was built to facilitate mining of the Potaro from Tumatumari bottom to its mouth and adjoining stretches of the Essequibo River.
Hearsay also claims that Aldee was fired by Governor Lethem for insubordination right at Tumatumari. It seems Lethem on a return visit from the Rupununi (via boat) requested Aldee meet him at Tumatumari to answer complaints received by Lethem. During the Governor’s dressing down, Aldee removed his hearing aid!
Access to Kangaruma is via another branch Rd on South bank Potaro. Kangaruma is probably best known as road end, for those who travel overland to Kaieteur. From here you proceed by falls boat to Kaieteur bottom, negotiating two or three rapids along the way. Its primary function was to facilitate access to areas in the upper Potaro such as Velgraad and Orinduik
I can assure you that in 1971 while working on the Annai/Mahdia Rd, I accessed Mahdia many times using the Bartica/Potaro Rd, which at that time was the only road to Mahdia. I visited Tumatumari and Kangaruma and on several occasions spent nights at Kangaruma sleeping in the Government rest house.
Because much better access to Mahdia is now provided through Mabura Hill, maintenance of the Bartica/Potaro Rd from the Issano junction to Madhia was minimized and the road was often times blocked by fallen trees. I was told the road was reopened sometime last year so it is again possible to access Madhia from Bartica using this route.
For valuable information on Tumatumari contact Sam Ramsahoye. Interesting tales about the Bartica/Potaro Rd can be pried from Philip Allsopp. Bernard Matthews can give you the history of the trail from Kaieteur top to Amaila top and from Amaila bottom to the junction on the Issano Rd. Maurice Veecock knows all about the hydroelectric potential of the Potaro Basin which includes Amaila Falls. Lastly, Paul Yearwood can enlighten you about the overland route from Georgetown to Portage Falls then by boat to Amaila Falls along the Kuribrong.
The road linking Tumatumari was indeed the Bartica/Potaro trail via a branch road. So too is access to Kangaruma via a branch to the Bartica/Potaro Road. We cannot understand the writer’s comment about the statement being incorrect.
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