The Ministry of Agriculture has diverted funds and will commence rehabilitating the Parika/Naamryck road following complaints about its poor state.
The $89 million contract was awarded to Ramotar Engineering and the company is already stockpiling materials at the site. The project falls under the Ministry of Agriculture rather than the Ministry of Public Works, Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud explained yesterday during a site visit. He said that about a week ago, they found the funds to do “total rehabilitation” of the road by reconfiguring some projects under the Agriculture Sector Support Programme.
The funds were originally earmarked for drainage and irrigation works under the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) funded programme but approval was obtained from the bank to divert the sum to fix the potholed road. Farmers had complained to this newspaper and to the minister about the state of the road and a few months ago, a $13 million contract to rehabilitate and maintain the road was awarded to Eagle Transportation Service by the Ministry of Public Works for the rehabilitation and maintenance of the five-kilometre road.
Persaud had said at the time that this was an interim measure based on the resources available. At the time, he said that leftover funds from the drainage and irrigation project will be added to the contract. Over the years various sums were spent to repair the road and at a meeting in the area recently farmers had said that lots of money was wasted in applying “crusher run” to the road in the past years with $5 million spent last year.
Quizzed yesterday on the sums spent over the years, Persaud said he wouldn’t be able to give an exact figure because the works were not done primarily through the Agriculture Ministry. “This is the first set of resources we are spending seriously on this major access (road). Work would have been done over time both centrally and through the region…,” he said.
The road will be a “crusher run” all-weather road and is expected to be completed within four months. Engineers will be programming the work because some of the work cannot be done properly during the rainy season. “The aim is to maintain access and usability of it,” the minister told Stabroek News.
Currently the road is potholed and with the rainy season on, it has become worse though vehicles still drive on it. There are sections which deteriorate more often than others and Persaud acknowledged that this is because the original work was “not done properly”. Senior Engineer in the Agriculture Sector Development Unit Frederick Flatts said that where the foundation was not done properly, it would be redone.
One resident pointed out that they had a “crusher-run” road before and “we see the outcome of it”. He asked whether a “little more” could be added and the road paved but it was pointed out that to pave the road would be very expensive. Persaud urged that farmers and residents monitor the work to ensure that quality work is done.
In 2007, a $74.6 million all-weather road was constructed under the Poor Rural Communities Support Services Project (PRCSSP) for farmers in Naamryck.
Persaud and other ministry officials were also scheduled to meet farmers in the area yesterday but only two persons who identified themselves as farmers had turned up by the time the minister arrived. A few residents later joined. One woman raised the issue of the desilting of the Boeraserie creek which she said had been promised and some work done but never completed. An official is expected to visit the area to follow up on this next week.