Residents, fed up with the state of a roadway being built to link Oronoque and Port Kaituma central, North West District (NWD) yesterday protested and vowed that they will continue until they get some positive response from the Regional Administration.
About 40 residents holding placards, and under the watchful eyes of uniformed police officers, braved the hot sun for several hours. They chanted slogans as they walked around in a circle.
“We need road!” they chanted. On the placards residents asked for the suffering their children are enduring to stop. They also called for the presence of the Regional Chairman and officials.
Regional Vice Chairman Fermin Singh when contacted told Stabroek News via telephone that he was unaware of the protest. He said that based on what he knew work was ongoing on the dirt dam and this was the position when he visited the area up to two Sundays ago.
Singh, while explaining that they have to work with the finances that are available said that first there would be a layer of red loam and on top of that stone will be thrown. He said that at one point they wanted to put the loam, and then a layer of sand before the stone but the budget did not allow for this to be done.
He told this newspaper that the length of the dirt dam is about 1,700 feet while noting that although there are concerns about its state whenever it rain there is nothing that can be done about climate change. He said it was recommended to the contractor that tarpaulin be used to cover the area in the event of rain. Based on what Singh said that never became a reality since it would have been an added cost for the contractor.
Singh stressed that if it rained the loam will get wet adding that residents have to be understanding in these circumstances. He said that in the meantime there are alternative roads residents can use until the dirt dam is completed.
An upset Rohilda Mendonca told Stabroek News that when rain fell recently her five children could not attend school because of the state of the road.
She said that it is unsatisfactory for the contractor to be “putting mud pon mud”. She stressed that because of the state of the structure parents are finding it increasingly difficult to send their children to school and residents are at a point now where they are fed up of the situation. She said that the state of the road worsens every time it rained. She said that although they were protesting no regional official has gone to hear their complaints.
Resident Trevor Alleyne said there was a serious issue with the state of the road. He said there was a contractor doing work on the road and within three months it got worse than it was before. The upset man told this newspaper that not even an All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) can navigate the road in its current state.
He said persons were unable to use the roadway and were forced to walk an extra mile to get Port Kaituma Central. “It is not fair to us,” he said while adding that parents had to pay $4,000 one way to take their children to school by car using the longer route. “It means that people gotta find $8,000 to and fro. We are poor people,” the man said. He stressed that residents are suffering and added that it is the same contractor who is working on the road all the time.
According to Alleyne, when approached the contractor told them that he was instructed to throw mud and a little stone.
Richard Allen, in an invited comment, said what was happening was unfair since residents have been waiting for many years for a road. In the past residents had to use a dilapidated wooden catwalk which was built by Barama Company in 1994.
According to Allen large sums of money have been spent to complete the road which began about four years ago.
He said to date the region is still spending money and the road cannot be completed.
He said he had made contact with the permanent secretary of Regional Affairs as well as Regional Chairman Paul Pierre who promised to look into the matter.
He said he decided to join the protest after being told by residents that the contractor was throwing mud in the slush that was currently there. He said the residents claimed the contractor told them that was what the Regional Administration was paying him to do.
Allen said that they will continue to protest until some senior official can say something that is satisfactory.
Back in June the residents had complained about the state of the road which is a critical link between the two communities. They had blamed the rapid deterioration on substandard work but the region, in defence, had said that it was the vehicular traffic for which it was never intended that was causing the destruction of the road.