Roads provide for the cheapest and most efficient communication means. All over the world the powers ensure that there are roads to take people to anywhere in the country. Today the United States boasts that there is no part of the country to which people cannot drive. And the network is so carefully constructed and marked that once one is on any of these roads one can know in which direction one is heading.
Roads with odd numbers would take people either to the eastern or western part of the country; those with even numbers take people to the northern and southern part of the country. In fact, this is the case in North America because the Canadians have the same road numbering.
But there were not always roads. People walked or used available waterways. The railroad helped open up many countries and today the rail plays an integral role in moving large quantities of cargo, much more than is easily moved on roads.
Guyana is a developing country and only recently began constructing roads to open up the country. The first of these ran along the coast. The early roads were nothing but tracks that motorists avoided when they could. With independence came increased attention to the road surfaces to the extent that there is a surfaced road stretching from Charity in the Pomeroon to the river that serves as Guyana’s easternmost border with Suriname, its neighbour to the east.
Travelling to the interior was a tedious affair that seemed to take forever. Linden was at least fourteen hours from Georgetown along the Demerara River. Today that community is a blink, away courtesy of the road that was formally commissioned in 1968. Today that road is part of the road link to Lethem in the south.
Guyana blundered badly when it scrapped its railroad, the first on the South American continent. At the time oil was cheap and the roadways had been drastically enhanced. The then leaders never considered that oil would become extremely expensive as to make the railroad very profitable.
In fact, trains move the bulk of the people in the city at peak hours. Without these there would have been massive congestions on the streets. Already, Guyana with its increasing number of cars experience traffic jams at least three times a day because the roads are very inadequate. The railroads would have been very helpful. In fact, as is being done in some cities, it would have been cheaper for the government to construct a city rail network than to build new roads.
But it is to the hinterland that the country must look. When people talk about Guyana’s wealth they do not talk about those two agricultural products—rice and sugar—that once fuelled the economy. These are no longer the powerful export earners they once were. So it is to the hinterland that the national leaders are looking.
For one there is the pursuit of renewable energy through the construction of the Amaila hydroelectric project. A road to the dam site has been constructed and immediately the presence of the road has caused mining activities to be undertaken in that part of the country which until the road was not exploited.
Those miners of yore took weeks and even months to reach a suitable mining location, using boats and manually fetching huge loads. Many people died and their bodies were buried there because the area was all but inaccessible. Today there are roads that cause miners to cover that distance in a few hours.
Brazil was a distant dream until enterprising people fashioned a trail linking the coast and Lethem. A proper road would definitely change Guyana’s fortunes because Brazilian business would pass through Guyana to foreign lands in the process leaving needed revenue in this country.
Guyana has been reluctant to permit the upgrade of the road link with Brazil because of its fear of an increased drug trade and other criminal activity, spread from the larger countries to the south. But such is the cost of development. Roads throughout the hinterland could help make Guyana rich.
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