Jun 05, 2012 News
– attracts protest by truckers
Truckers and residents of the rice milling community of Burma, Mahaicony have vowed to intensify their protest action to press home their demands for a proper road.
The protest actions commenced yesterday after a number of trucks laden with tons of rice got stuck in a deplorable section of the road, effectively halting the smooth operations of the Saj Rice Mill.
The situation has reached crisis stage, especially since demands for a better road have been brushed aside for years.
The truckers and residents are not satisfied with the work done by a contractor, Joe Bacchus who is paid millions of dollars annually to repair the three-mile stretch of road and are calling for his removal.
In fact they are demanding that a completely new road be built, since they are convinced that the Regional Five authorities are being penny wise and pound foolish.
“This road is so bad that we fastening, breaking up we truck, we taking one and a half hour on five miles of road. We hear that they spending millions maintaining this road; we don’t know how much money, but they always say they spending a lot of money when they repairing it,” said Ganesh one of the truck owners whose vehicle was stuck in the road.
He blamed the engineer who is responsible for the road works which he called substandard.
When this newspaper arrived at Burma, the road appeared to be relatively good at the beginning, but after less than a mile, it becomes deplorable.
Near the rice mill, at least three truck loaded with rice were stuck in a slushy section which was obviously made impassable by the recent rains.
A truckload of what appeared to be loam was dumped nearby with a view to filling the holes that were left by the trucks when they were removed from the slush.
“If rain fall here, is slush. De thing need crusher run, it need brick. Is heavy duty vehicle does use this road,” Ganesh said.
Another truck owner, Davenand Ramdin, whose trucks were also affected, told this newspaper that he would sometimes use his vehicles to fill some of the holes.
He said that around 04:00 hours yesterday his trucks were loaded with rice to take to the Muneshwer’s Wharf and the drivers were negotiating their way out when they became stuck.
He explained that his trucks previously suffered extensive damages as a result of the road.
“This road just patching all de time, sub-standard patching. This morning we decide fuh do a lil protest because we talk to de regional chairman and he just promising we,” Ramdin told Kaieteur News.
For his actions he was locked up and then released on $10,000 station bail.
“I fighting fuh me rights, fuh me truck and I fighting fuh de people of Mahaicony Burma Road,” Ramdim said.
He recalled that his brother Deonarine Ramdin died on the said road while transporting a transformer a few years ago.
“I lost me brother because of the condition of the road and me can lose me trucks dem,” Ramdin said.
Kaieteur News understands that the Region Five administration has given an undertaking to tender for the urgent road works by weekend and work to repair it once and for all will commence soon after.
But the residents are adamant that the present road contractor should be barred from bidding on the project.
“Dis road like ah one milking cow. De contractor a bid de lowest fuh get de wuk and den he giving we cock wuk,” another trucker said.
Regional Member of Parliament for A Partnership for National Unity, Jennifer Wade, who was at the scene explained that mere patching the road will not work, since it is a market to farm road that is used by heavy machinery.
“You don’t wait until things happen to do things. You got to come into the area, talk to the people on the ground to know exactly what they need and work with that. It’s very frustrating and I’m sorry for the farmers in this area.”
Wade said that the Saj Mill did not even get the amount of paddy that was projected for this present crop because trucks refused to transport the commodity through the Burma Road.
She also claimed that the amount of money budgeted for the maintenance of the road is inadequate.
“This road don’t need patching; this road needs a complete overhaul , they must do it over.”
Japhett Williams another resident said that more than a year ago, the previous Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud had visited the road with the former regional chairman and promised road repairs.
“Budget pass, money pass and the road deh de same way. De new chairman wha come now say budget cut mek dis road can’t repair,” Williams said.
However, a truck driver was electrocuted on the road on March 30, before the budget cuts
Yesterday, it took the truckers several hours to get help from some heavy duty machinery to haul their trucks out.
The residents said that despite threats to arrest them, they will do whatever it takes within the law to ensure that they get some kind of relief.
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