Dear Editor,

There is a famous saying, ‘A job worth doing is worth doing well.’

In Lethem, the long awaited surfacing of the roads has begun. Unfortunately the age-old adage didn’t seem to be applied as the work completed on the first street left a lot to be desired. This poor quality of work is magnified when it is compared to the paving that was done by the Brazilian army near to the Takutu Bridge.

Glimpses of road works around Lethem were first seen late last year when heaps of laterite were deposited along the roads. Later, asphalt work was seen along one of the least important streets (but which also coincidentally housed the REO) at the back of Lethem. This was even though the main access road into Lethem was in an extreme state of disrepair and obviously mostly in need of work.

The street was graded and laid with laterite gravel. A very small section of the road (approximately 20m) was paved with a very thin layer of tar and asphalt. The construction crew then stopped work for the Xmas holidays and didn’t resume until the end of January 2009. During the time of stoppage the rest of the road that was graded and compacted started showing the ‘scrubbing board’ effect which is caused by vibrations on the road resulting in undulating ridges along the surface.

It seems that when the road construction crew resumed work they simply continued surfacing the road. This was even though the compacted laterite showed the ‘scrubbing board’ effect. What resulted was a paved road filled with the ‘scrubbing board’ ridges, resulting in a very bumpy ride for users.

This is definitely an unacceptable quality of work put out by the contractors. What is even more worrying is that this work was done right in front of the residence of the REO, who is the regional authority on such projects, and the compound of the RDC. If sub standard works are so blatantly allowed then how can proper works be expected in those remote areas where monitoring is much less vigilant?

Road works are known to be extremely expensive, especially asphalted roads. The poor quality of this roadwork seems a waste of hard earned taxpayers’ dollars.

A recent heartening sight has been the commencement of works along the main access road into Lethem. Somehow this work seems to be more professionally done. One wonders if this was due to the presence of Ministry of Public Works officials who were recently seen in the area, thus the improvement in quality.

Another worrying observation with the present road works is the use of dump trucks at night which are very poorly lit. When these trucks traverse these streets at night many are mistaken for smaller vehicles because of the poor lighting. Also, some are seen to be speeding along the streets even though their lighting is poor. This increases the possibility of an accident as the streets are generally very dark. The onus should be on the contractors to mandate that the dump trucks that are used/hired be properly lit. One hopes that the Lethem police also take note and ensure that safety of the people that use the roads along with the trucks is not compromised. Please do not wait until we have an accident before safety requirements are put in place.

It is a good sign to see that there will soon be improved roads in Lethem. This would make us more prepared to cope with opening of the Takutu Bridge and the expected influx of visitors and vehicles. Though this improvement has been late in coming, one only hopes that quality is not being compromised for time in an attempt to speed up our road development.

Also, because of roadworks done around the Takutu Bridge, we have a high benchmark by which to compare our local work. At present we seem to be lagging far behind in terms of quality. It is hoped that the necessary authorities ensure that sub-standard work is not accepted.

Yours faithfully,
(Name and address
provided)

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