With the promise of a visit by a technical team attached to the Ministry of Communities, aimed at addressing the deplorable state of the Matarkai Road, residents of Port Kaituma in the North West District are hoping that a viable solution can be reached to rectify their situation.
Notice of the visit was given last Friday by the Ministry of Communities, one day after frustrated residents staged a protest in front of the Matarkai Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) voicing their dissatisfaction over the state of the of the main access road. According to the ministry, the visit would be see a team comprising Ministerial Liaison Mark Crawford, Principal Regional Development Officer Surendra Khayyam, Project Manager Naeem Khan, Member of Parliament Richard Allen and officials from the region engaging residents to discuss the situation at hand and firm up a community development.
Stabroek News has since been made to understand that the team is expected to arrive today and will also be meeting with officials from the NDC.
Meanwhile, residents told Stabroek News that they are in full anticipation of the visit since it is their hope that the discussions would yield favourable results for the community.
Port Kaituma resident, Brian Gomes said he is particularly pleased with the ministry’s decision to send a team to address the situation since it means their protest was not done in vain but bore some fruit.
Chairperson of the Matarkai NDC Margret Lambert has also expressed satisfaction with the decision to have a team visit since the plight of the residents and the condition of the road deserve to be addressed.
In the meantime, Lambert noted that since concerns were also raised regarding the mismanagement of the toll gate. She said that some vehicles pass without paying the tolls required before they are allowed to traverse the Matarkai road and steps are being taken to ensure tolls are collected by those who are desirous of using the road.
According to the ministry’s statement, Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan had stated that the ministry has been cognisant of the challenges facing several regions, particularly the hinterland. It, however, took a swipe at residents by saying that they should play a more proactive role in the development of their community “even beyond their involvement in civil demonstrations.” This was a clear reference to the protests held by Port Kaituma residents last week.
Additionally, it was noted that the visit would be a follow-up on a previous trip taken by officials to the area last week to meet with residents and gather their input on a Local Area Economic Plan (LAEP). The ministry said that the turnout at the first meeting was “dismal and far from encouraging.”
Residents had previously told Stabroek News that the decision to protest came in the light of the frustration felt by residents who are left to traverse a rapidly deteriorating road on a daily basis.
Orin Europe, a resident of Port Kaituma for the past seven years, told Stabroek News that the treacherous state of the road resulted in the jubilee celebrations in the area having to be cut short.
“We don’t just have potholes here anymore, we have gullies, that’s how bad things are here with these roads right now and nobody is doing anything about it,” Europe said.
Another resident spoke of the increased transportation fees that have been implemented by drivers who are left to cover expenses incurred due to the damage done to their vehicles as a result of the current condition of the road.
Over a week ago, Cabinet announced that it had cleared a $30.8 million contract to Vijay Persaud and Sons Contracting Services for the stretch of road from Port Kaituma to Matthews Ridge. Also given the go-ahead was a $28 million contract to V Dalip Enterprise for the Matthews Ridge to Baramita Road.
However, it is unclear when work will actually begin or how long it will take.