With millions spent once again on rehabilitating the five-mile stretch of road at Burma, Region 5, residents of the community are calling for a proper job to be done instead of the “slam dash” work they have gotten from contractors.
It was only last month that a $7.5M contract was inked for the general rehabilitation of the road which is used by residents of the rice farming community and to access the SAJ Rice mill. Residents told Stabroek News on Tuesday that the road was done two weeks ago and that they are in disbelief at its condition in such a short space of time.
“This road only do the other day and is like they ain’t even do anything proper,” one resident told this newspaper.
“We want a complete overhaul and not some cock work. We working hard in these mills and when we come out is this slam dash road we gotta travel on,” a farmer, who asked not to be named, complained.
The road has been done with crusher-run and loam, according to residents, who say it is not adequate because of the number of heavy-duty vehicles and trucks that travel in and out of the rice fields every day. “It makes no sense to have a road with those types of material ‒ crusher run and loam ‒ when we are dealing with big trucks and tractors every day, whole day,” another farmer said.
Last year, some $9M was spent on works to make the road passable, including the filling of potholes with crusher-run. The works were green-lit after residents protested over the deplorable state of the road, while calling on the government to fund a new road.
Several farmers said that it seems like déjà vu. “Imagine last year we protest about this road condition because the contractor then had given us a poor job and this year it seems like this contractor is doing the same thing. These people getting millions of our hard earned money to do proper work and is crap they giving us. Every year, you hearing how much millions they spending on Burma Road. And when you see the road after they finish, it worse than before,” another farmer said.
Many farmers say that it takes them well over an hour to get in and out of the village, and that shouldn’t be.
Resident Sharmilla Gonsalves stated that the pot-holed road is forcing her and others to have repairs done on their vehicles every month. “This road affects me a lot… every two weeks I have to be changing some part on my vehicle. If is not one thing is the next. I am totally fed up of this situation,” she said.
Other residents questioned if the contractors even knew what they were doing. “How they build the road, it got two shoulders at the side and when rain fall is a big pool of water you end up with in the middle,” one of them said.
Public transportation is a rarity, they also said.
“No vehicle wants to come down this road. Dem cars and minibus does cry out how the road long to come in and that it is damaging their vehicles. One car does work in here and he does charge us $100 to go in and come out. When he is not working or [if] he vehicle full, we does have to depend on a bed truck from the SAJ rice group, which transports the children and workers in the community out of the village free of cost,” Shelly Lawrence, a resident explained. She added that if it wasn’t for the kindness of the company, they didn’t know how they would get out or into Burma. “This truck has eased the burden off of us.”
It was only recently, one resident said, that a truck had become stuck in one of the many holes in the road and had to be pulled out by two tractors. “The roads are so tiny that two vehicles can’t pass at the same time so some of them are forced to pull into the sides and is duh he do and get stick in the mud,” the resident explained.
A resident who complained about the road was told to “tell the people who cut the budget,” since this was the reason for the shoddy works. “The chairman keep telling we is the budget cuts caused this,” he said.
Resident Raphael Williams said that there needs to be several speed bumps on the road also, since many of the trucks fly down the road. “Because you does take so long to get in and out of the village, many of them does race down the road and this is probably why the roads does deteriorate so fast. Them trucks does fly through here like if is a highway they deh on,” he noted.
The Burma Road is also without street lights and has overgrown trees on both sides, which residents said makes it ideal for criminals at night and they are calling on the authorities to rectify this situation.