A long line of trucks, vans and buses remained trapped at Ituni yesterday, and while Works Ministry officials said they hoped to have the water drained and the road open by today, residents fear it could take as long as a month.
Meanwhile, passengers of the stranded vehicles were forced to pay as much as $1,000 to get to the other side where buses were waiting to take them to their destinations – Kwakwani and other riverain communities — at an additional $1,000 to $1,500.
At the time the Ministry of Public Works was attempting to drain the water off the road to make it passable once again. According to the ministry’s field coordinator Lawrence Fiedtkou, work started around 2 pm on Friday and workers were able to achieve the step of breaking the embankment at 11 am yesterday.
This saw the movement of the water into a large creek which was at the back of the embankment and Fiedtkou was optimistic that by noon today (Sunday) the road would be passable once again.
According to Fiedtkou, once the water recedes attempts would be made to clear the existing culvert, failing which, they would have to work at installing new culverts at the location.
“We want to express our gratitude to residents, Linmine Secretariat’s Horace James, Rusal engineers all of whom were very supportive in giving advice on how to deal with the situation,” said Fiedtkou. While work is ongoing at that section of the road, a number of other places along the Ituni are likely to share the same fate and Fiedtkou said they intended to deal with that situation before it gets worse.
Meanwhile, several residents of both Kwakwani and Ituni said Fiedtkou was being overly optimistic and that it would take another four weeks to get the water under control.
According to them there is a very high creek further inland on the opposite side of the broken embankment which is likely to send a much large volume of water across the road.
“What these guys don’t know is that there is another creek at the backland that has been blocked by this water and when this one goes down is a sea of water waiting to come through,“ said Germaine Schultz a resident of Ituni.
Ituni residents said government agencies need to brace residents in the area because they are likely to face an economic breakdown.
Dwayne Wilson a logger who lives at Ituni said they are unable to transport their logs out of the backlands owing to the high water.
“They are passing through Ituni and taking food to Kwakwani and not taking into consideration what is happening with residents of this area,“ he said.
Other residents in the community said they are evenly affected by the cut off of the road as other communities on the other side and are hoping that some relief would be forthcoming soon.
In tears a logger said that they were unaware of the problem on the road and were heading out to Georgetown. “Me ain’t gat a cent on me and I can’t go back into the backdam now because it ain’t make no sense.“
He said he was forced to beg the boat operators for a free passage across and the same favour of a bus that was heading to Linden.
Shop owners in Ituni said that almost all of their supplies were credited out to residents who said they would not be able to pay until they got their wood sold, a mission they said might be impossible for the next few weeks.