Repairs to the Lethem trail are ongoing and according to the project engineer attached to construction company BK International, the scope of works between the Kurupukari Crossing and Lethem has changed following recent prolonged rainfall.
Engineer Basdeo Ramlall said the company began works along the roadway approximately one month ago. MMC Mining Company is simultaneously working along the roadway between the Kurupukari Crossing and Linden.
Ramlall told Stabroek News from Lethem yesterday that the company is working along the roadway some two miles before the Pirara Ranch. He said, “That area is a bad part, so we are trying to make the area passable.” He added that the works include grading the area and then backfilling it with laterite. He further explained that the company had initially planned to place one foot of laterite along the roadway, but he noted that “the scope of works has shifted because of the damage done to the section of the road by the weather and traffic.”
Ramlall stated that works are aimed at ensuring the entire roadway is passable, since traffic continues to flow between the border community and the Coastland. He said that repairs along the Hunt Oil Stretch are also ongoing and he noted that it was one of several areas near Lethem where culverts will be installed to facilitate better drainage of the low-lying areas. The area is prone to flooding, given its low-lying topographical nature, he said, while noting that the company will install additional culverts “along the valleys to better drain the area.”
“Generally, the scope of works along the entire work area has to change because of the extent to which the weather hit this area. So, I think an average of about three feet of laterite will have to be placed along the roadway from the crossing into the Lethem,” he said.
Further, Ramlall noted that the extension of the scope of works will see the timeframe specified in the contract being extended by several weeks. “Well, we started about a month ago and by the looks of things we should finish by the end of November,” he said.
The engineer also noted that the company will within the next few days commence grading the roadway beginning at the crossing. According to him, “it’s basically the weather which we are facing.”
He also said that officials of the company, based in Georgetown, called him yesterday to make queries on the works being undertaken and he noted that the contents of a letter on subject published in Wednesday’s edition of this newspaper “were surprising.”
The letter writer had said that a poorly-filled area existed along the stretch of road some 25 miles from Lethem, near the Pirara area. It was noted too that the roads within the Lethem area were in dire need of repairs, with the contributor noting that residents of the Rupununi were urging President Bharrat Jagdeo to hasten the progress of road repairs to the region.
Ramlall stated that BK International was awarded two contracts to carry out works in the Rupununi area; to upgrade the section of the roadway between Lethem and the Kurupukari Crossing as well as to upgrade half of the roadway linking Aishalton and Lethem.
Motorists travelling along the Lethem/Georgetown trail have been continually facing difficulties. In June this year, the region faced severe flooding after the main waterways in the region overtopped while an increase in rainfall in the Upper Essequibo contributed to an increase in water in the fluvial systems in the Upper Essequibo. As a result, the roadway, and mainly areas close to Lethem had been under several inches of water for weeks, creating nightmares for motorists.
Residents have been calling on the government to consider upgrading the roadway to an all-weather road, given the importance of the economic link to the Coastland.