By Jeff Trotman
Bus drivers on the Linden/Kwakwani route and residents of Ituni set up two road blocks yesterday at Ituni in protest at the deplorable state of the road.
They said that they will not ease the road block unless they get a firm commitment that a proper all-weather road will be built in the very short term.
Regional Chairman, Sharma Solomon travelled to Ituni and met with the respective road block parties
just after lunch at the northern and southern entrances to the village and told them that the Region Ten (Upper Demerara/Upper Berbice) Democratic Council will support their quest for control over these decision.
“You are not wrong to demand a proper road,” Solomon said. “It is not just a smooth road you want. A proper road brings order to your life. If you are ambitious and you want to buy a car, no right thinking person would buy a car to drive on a road that is in such condition.
But you have the right to enjoy a quality of life as anyone else in the country.”
Solomon said that representatives from the Region met with government officials on 10th July and sought a commitment for a timeline on the proper repair schedules for five major roadways in the region, including, the Linden/ Kwakwani Road but, so far, the government has been unable to give the region’s officials a definite answer.
Solomon said that he would make the effort for Prime Minister Sam Hinds and other government ministers to meet with opinion leaders from the protestors at Ituni and he would like the government officials to travel by road to Ituni to experience at firsthand what the normal commuter goes through.
One irate bus driver said that billions of dollars are made by companies that use the road such as the Russian bauxite company, Rusal, the Chinese logging company, Bai Shan Lin and other large local lumber companies. Yet, they do not repair the road.
“It is overbearing,” the bus driver said. “The Linden/Kwakwani road, especially the part between Linden and Ituni, is not being developed inspite of the bauxite, gold and diamond that is being mined in this area as well as the large amount of lumber. Bai Shan Lin and the Russians, Rusal, exploit our resources and they have big trucks plying the road and mashing it up. But they turn a blind eye to fixing the road. Even the government is not fixing the road.”
Trade unionist and RDC councillor, Leslie Gonsalves, who accompanied the regional Chairman to Ituni, told the protestors that they must not pay heed to any excuses attributed to Rusal that the company is not obligated to fix the road because it pays the relevant taxes and levies to the government. According to him, Rusal has benefitted from duty-free concessions and a tax ease on certain imported items.
He also said the America-based Reynolds Metal Company that operated before the era of nationalization, has set the precedent on how a company should operate as a good corporate citizen by periodically fixing the road.