Residents of the East Bank Berbice, who had been blocking the road at Glasgow in frustration over its condition, ended their protest action on Tuesday, after assurances that a new road would be constructed.
Residents, however, are seeking a public apology from Member of Parliament (MP) Faizal Jaffarally, who they said claimed that because the area has a small population it could not have a major road investment.
Efforts to contact Jaffarally for a comment were unsuccessful.
Saying that the road is in a “terrible state,” with huge potholes that are causing damage to their vehicles, they blocked it on Monday and on Tuesday. They, however, ended the protest on Tuesday, after Regional Chairman David Armogan confirmed that a new road would be constructed after the budget is approved. Armogan assured the residents that the equipment would have to be removed and that the repairs to the tune of $18 million would be done to the road, until additional funding from the national budget is secured.
Residents lamented Jaffarally Region Six MP saying on national television that “this area is not populated and it was not wise for them [government] to invest a lot of money here.” According to them, they saw it as “gross disrespect to the people because East Bank Berbice is [heavily] populated, more than the other areas where government is investing huge sums.”
The residents told this newspaper too that “his action, to make such a statement, is not warranted… since his duty is to make representation for his fellow residents.”
They were very disappointed at what he said, since he was also mentioning the other roads that were being fixed, including Canje and Black Bush Polder. “He sounded as though the government didn’t have any intention of doing any work in this area,” a resident noted.
In addition to the concerns about the road, Armogan also addressed the removal of equipment and machinery from Nauth Contracting Firm from the area. The residents lamented that the equipment and machinery were being stored in the area and accused the firm of contributing to the deterioration of the road, which was used to transport the materials for the rehabilitation of the Canje Road. They noted too that although the firm was engaged in mixing bitumen, which they said was also polluting the atmosphere, it did not help to at least fill some of the potholes.
Hazrat Husain, a resident of Sisters Village, who is also a regional councillor, told Stabroek News that residents saw the storing of the equipment in the area as “total disregard for their feelings,” especially since they were being used to fix another area.
On Tuesday, they held a procession from their protest point at Glasgow to Nauth Contracting Firm in the nearby village of Heatburn.
They were also joined by APNU MP James Bond, who also made contact with the chairman by telephone and then confirmed to the residents that the money for the repairs had to be approved.
On Monday, the residents blocked a section of the road at Glasgow during heavy downpours to protest its deplorable condition and demand immediate action. They also refused to listen to Armogan when he told them about the budget and the repairs because they were “fed up with promises” and “patch work.” They had also demanded the attention of President Donald Ramotar.
Husain said the chairman promised that “we will have a newly-constructed resurfaced road after the 2012 budget as instructed by the Minister of Transport [Robeson Benn] and the president.” He said too that they are happy that the “remedial work would be done in the meantime to bring relief to residents.”
Meanwhile, Bond said “the opposition will support anything that is legitimate and which will bring development for its citizens” and where there is “accountability for the hard earned taxpayers’ money.” He promised that he would personally scrutinise the work for East Bank Berbice Road and also intends to call for a “forensic audit” for all previous contracts.