The Bartica United Youth Development Group (BUYDG) is calling on Minister of Finance Ashni Singh to make provision in the budget for the transformation of the Bartica-Potaro road into a highway.
BUYDG is also calling on the government to immediately halt the awarding of contracts for the Potaro road since the patching of the road has proven to be a total waste of taxpayers’ money. The road was originally built in the early 1900s and to date the residents are still not benefiting from a proper highway. If the government totalled up the full amount that has been spent on repairs over the years it would be equivalent to millions of dollars which with some additional money if necessary could have been used to construct a highway. The only people who have benefited from the Potaro road contracts over the years are the contractors, not the road users, such as the residents of Bartica, minibus owners who provide public transpiration services and gold miners, who provide jobs and generate revenue for the nation.
The road was patched in September 2013 and within three weeks it ended back at square one in its normal shoddy condition. In September 2012 a number of residents had picketed in front of the Regional Democratic Office over the condition of the Potaro Road, and they had been joined by a number of bus owners, other road users and residents of Bartica. A few days after the picket ended the road had been repaired, but two weeks later it ended back at square one.
BUYDG would like a regional team to begin work to transform the Potaro Road into a heavy-duty asphalt road of four lanes with drains at the sides. A committee should also be established comprising persons chosen by residents who live along the Potaro Road to ensure proper accountability and transparency in relation to the work.
The Potaro Road which winds its way for 112 miles from Bartica in Region Seven (Cuyuni/Mazaruni) to Mahdia in Region Eight (Potaro/Siparuni) with branches along the way could boost mining and economic development along the route as well as encourage tourism in the community since tourists will have easier access to tourist sites. In addition, investors will seek to establish businesses along the route, etc.
The resuscitation of the road will benefit the residents of both Bartica and Mahdia, since those travelling from Bartica have to cross the Essequibo at Sherima to get to the Linden-Lethem road and then cross the Essequibo River again near Mabura, to travel westwards overland to get to Mahdia ‒ a very time-consuming trip.
Region 7 is a main contributor of revenue to the treasury, and in addition to the road, some of that revenue should be spent on improvements to the hospital and all medical outposts; the post office; schools; the potable water supply; the electricity sector, etc.