Emergency Bartica road repairs halted
–residents concerned about deterioration
Emergency repairs to the deplorable three-mile stretch of the Bartica-Potaro Road came to an abrupt end more than a week ago, after a Ministry of Works official left for the city to test a sample of the tar that was being used and has not returned.
Residents have since expressed concern that the state of the road would worsen if work does not recommence soon.
Efforts to get a comment from ministry officials yesterday were futile, but when contacted Regional Chairman Gordon Bradford said he was aware of the situation. He told Stabroek News that he had been unable to make contact with the contractor as well as the Hinterland Road Engineer who is in some interior location.
He said the contractor’s equipment was still at the site, but the workers are not there and it was likely that there would be some deterioration in the parts of the roadway that have been prepared but not sealed.
Godfrey Marshall, who has some engineering experience and who is a member of the team that was in negotiations with the regional administration to have the road, fixed said recent rains have resulted in several parts of the road being washed away, largely because there are no proper road side drains.
He explained that the road has already started to deteriorate, while noting that the drainage work which was supposed to be undertaken by another contractor was incomplete.
“By the time they come back they have to do back the road”, he fretted.
According to Marshall, an issue had been raised about the quality of the tar being used on the road. He explained that an employee from the Ministry of Public Works then went and took a sample of the tar for testing. The issue arose over kerosene oil being mixed into the tar, he said, noting that according to the official this was a normal practice, but while the right tar was being used, two much kerosene oil was being added.
Marshall said it was explained to him that kerosene is used to speed up the process, but he has no knowledge about this. He said he was told that the usual practice is that five gallons of kerosene oil are mixed with 45 gallons of tar. He opined that this should not be done on this particular road because of the amount of traffic that uses it.
He stressed that it has not been the vehicle traffic that is damaging the road but rather the poor construction work being properly done.
Marshall stated that in some cases the tar was too thin.
He opined that the tar should be used as is, since because of the sunny weather it would “bleed”. When this happens, he said, sand should be placed over it and used as a seal.
Meanwhile, Micah Williams, chairman of the Bartica branch of the United Minibus Union, expressed concern about the delay in the road works. He said the road will return to “square one” if not looked at.
Residents had blocked the roadway and dug a ditch to protest its deplorable state. Subsequently $16.4 million was set aside by government for temporary repairs to the roadway. Thereafter, a contractor from the coastland was to have started permanent repair works.