The Rupununi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) is calling for more regular and improved maintenance of the Linden-Lethem road to cope with the increase in heavy traffic.
“The road is deteriorating faster than before because we are seeing more traffic now,” President of the RCCI Daniel Gajie told Stabroek News yesterday. He said that over the past four years the volume and type of traffic has increased with larger trucks with heavier loads now traversing the long, laterite trail regularly. According to Gajie, since four years ago, the amount of traffic has increased threefold and the loads carried by the bigger two-axle trucks are thrice what was carried by the one-axle trucks.
Despite this, he said, there has not been an improvement in the number of times that maintenance of the road is carried out with this usually being done once a year. In addition, there has not been an improvement in the quality of the maintenance works with workers using the same method they did five years ago with the gravel just being scattered on the road and no grading done.
The RCCI president also said that there is no effort to improve the types of bridges, and maintenance of these wooden structures is usually done only once a year as well.
Gajie said that last month a section of the trail at Toka village in the North Rupununi washed away and more recently, a section of road close to the Mango Bridge in the Iwokrama concession had washed away. He also noted the many potholes on the trail, singling out the section at Mabura.
The RCCI president said that the chamber wants an increase in the maintenance being carried out on the road as well as an improvement in the quality of the work done, including more gravelling and compacting. “If that is not done then the road will break up faster like what is happening now,” he said.
The authorities need to have a maintenance plan for the road that includes dealing with the number of times the road is maintained per year as well as the quality of the work done, Gajie said.
He stated that the current state of the road is “not good” and while in the dry season, the potholes are seen, it becomes dangerous during the rains and trucks have a hard time on the road. Gajie said that a few weeks ago, a tanker delivering fuel for the Lethem Power Company slid off the road. “It’s only time before you have a real disaster on the road,” he said.
There have been many calls over the past years for the Linden-Lethem road to be upgraded. During the rainy season, it has oftentimes deteriorated greatly.
Guyana and Brazil have agreed that a cost analysis is essential to moving ahead with the Linden to Lethem road project. It was one of the agreements emanating from a meeting between Guyana’s Foreign Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett and then Minister of External Relations of Brazil, Antonio de Aguiar Patriota, on the sidelines of the Mercosur Summit in Montevideo, Uruguay in July.
A statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had said that “Considering the common desire of moving forward as soon as possible with the project of upgrading the road, they highlighted the need to execute the cost analysis of the initiative, with agreed terms of reference. They agreed that the successful completion of the appropriate analysis will provide conditions for starting the project.”
The financial feasibility of the project for a paved highway between the two points and who would fund it have been on the agenda here for several decades.