Recent references to road construction projects and road erosion problems got my attention. It appears that work will commence soon on upgrading the Mandela Avenue/Sheriff Street corridor along with the West Demerara Highway. Further, Minister Benn has identified poor drainage as a major contributor to road erosion. The question is should we continue building and repairing roads when factors exist to reduce the life-span of these efforts? From my observations, road damage has three main causes – road reserve barricades that prevent water run-off, drainage problems in surrounding areas, and shoddy construction methods.
It appears to be part of our culture to use the road reserve as a piece of our private property and which then grants us the right to dump dirt and sand on these reserves in aid of construction on our properties. In most cases, there is a mismatch between the amount of this construction material needed and the minimum quantities purchased, usually sold by truck-load. The remaining materials become a permanent dam and impede the run-off of water from the road to side drains. This practice has to be dealt with by the Authorities and no roads should be built or repaired unless the reserve is lower than the surface of the road and contains a gentle slope to the drains.
Area Drainage Problems
There’re several causes for road destruction from area flooding including shallow or clogged drains, and elevation of drains in relation to that of the road. The solution to all of these is deeper drains that slope up to the road. In areas where flooding is prevalent, preparatory work on drains and sloping reserves are necessary before road construction/repairs take place.
You see this everywhere. A pothole in my neighbourhood was recently filled with an asphalt mix. The very next day, an indentation appeared in the middle where water can settle and affect the integrity of the repair work. I was in Charity a couple weekends back and witnessed the filling of potholes there. A loose asphalt mix was dumped into the holes and left there. The presumption is that vehicular traffic would compact the mix. The next day as I passed through, I saw deep indentations in the holes and with loose mix all over the road. This is what passes for road repair. If too little or too much fill is used, new potholes or bumps respectively, are created. People need to be held accountable for substandard work.
Roads don’t appear to have a long life-span in Guyana. But despite knowing the principal causes for this we continue to build and repair them. The Authorities should cease all road construction until standards are put in place dealing with gradients of both roads and reserves, and with construction methods and practices. Otherwise road construction is a waste of resources.