It seems as though I will be a regular writer to your newspaper, because as Buju Banton puts it, “Circumstances made me what I am…” I read in the papers today how a young life was snuffed out on the Linden to Lethem trail yesterday. I have known the lad’s family since the early ’90s and I extend my deepest sympathy in this their hour of grief. But it didn’t have to be this way.
His father is a shrewd businessman, who worked his way up from being a driver of a Bedford Model M truck in the days when the trail was really a trail, to the point where he now has several double-axle trucks and two businesses located at Lethem and Annai.
During the floods of last year when the infamous Hunt Oil stretch was a pulp for a road, I was a part-time reporter for Stabroek News. During that trying time for the residents of this region, Minister Benn paid a visit and directed repairs that were being undertaken to that segment of the road. In between visits to the Hunt Oil Road, he held a meeting with all stakeholders at the Regional Guest House. I was there in the capacity of a reporter.
After all was said, I rose and asked the Minister what efforts were being made to fix the breached road, and to upgrade the road from a Model M road to a Double-Axle road. I pointed out to the Minister that Lethem was once served by Model M trucks, but the community has since grown, and the truckers have seized the initiative to have larger trucks in order that they can improve their services, and as such the roads need to be upgraded.
The Minister threw a tantrum and said that he would be very, very mad if anybody reported that the road was breached. He went on to say that his government has since upgraded the bridges from being 5 tonnes to a massive 30 tonnes. This story was published in the SN some time last year.
Well Editor, there we have it, a bridge designed to carry 30 tonnes collapsing. I have no knowledge what 30 tonnes look like. An independent engineer should be employed to verify if any of those bridges are indeed 30 tonnes. If this was anywhere in the Western world we would have heard of a lawsuit.
Concurrently, systems should be put in place to ensure that vehicles are not overweight. A scale at Kurupukari can be a start.