The Institute of Applied Science and Technology (IAST) along with the Ministries of Agriculture and Public Works yesterday launched an experimental road project using kilned clays in Better Hope, ECD.
The project, which was launched at Third Street, Area ‘K’, Better Hope South, is a response to a challenge thrown out by President Bharrat Jagdeo. The Head of State had called for the institute to find a way of improving the process currently used in building roads in rural areas in Guyana. Stabroek News was told that this project cost about $4.2M.
Director of the IAST, Dr. Suresh Narine said that the use of kilned clay was cheaper than the quarried materials used locally to construct the “rural farm-to-market access roads.” He said that Guyana has about “8000 miles of unpaved, poor farm-to-market access roads on the coast, as, well as a significant amount of unpaved roads in rural villages.” As agricultural exports increase due to the efforts of the Agricultural Ministry’s Grow More Food Campaign, the use of these roads will become increasingly important and need to be improved, he added. Dr. Narine pointed out that during the rainy season many of these roads are reduced to a deplorable state.
In its attempt to find a cost-effective solution, the IAST has looked to the use of clay particularly since it is easily accessible on the coast. According to the Director, the institute developed an extrusion method which allows for the production of reproducible cylindrical aggregates from sun-dried clay. The regular-sized aggregates are then further sun-dried and subsequently fired in specially designed clay kilns, using a variety of fuel sources. The aggregates are fired for specified temperature ranges and times, after which they are converted into the finished, hard, moisture-resistant building material. Due to the use of the kilns and extensive use of sun-drying, the amount of fuel used is vastly reduced from the traditional processes. According to Dr. Narine, the use of kilned clays for building of roads is nothing new and dates back to Roman days. He said that there are several examples of fine clay roads which still exist in parts of Europe.
Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud commended the IAST for responding to the challenge issued by the President and said that he was happy that affordable technology was being utilized to address a major need. He said that every year a lot of financial resources go into the maintenance of farm-to-market access roads on the Coastal region.
Also present at yesterday’s launch was Transport Minister Robeson Benn, who saluted the initiative while calling for the project to be diversified
The length of road completed under this pilot is 500 feet. According to Sunil Ganesh, one of the Civil Engineers who worked on the project, 200 feet was done with burnt earth material and the other 300 feet with the conventional crush stone. The project was started on 3rd September, 2008 and was concluded on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Dr. Narine said that the IAST will be observing the road continuously for one year, during which certain evaluations will be done. He explained that at some point, tractors and other heavy duty machines will be used on the road to see how it withstands the weight. Depending on these assessments, the institute may build a similar road in a farming area, he added.
This pilot road was constructed by Gaico Construct-ing Company with assistance from Courtney Benn Con-tracting Services. The Insti-tute of Applied Science and Technology (IAST) collaborated with several other entities including the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development and the State Planning Secretariat within the Ministry of Finance on this project.