First of all I would like to sympathize with the families who lost their loved ones in an accident on the Richmond Public Road, Essequibo Coast. This road is fast becoming a death trap where many have died over the past years, mostly because of speeding or drunk driving. On my many tours throughout the coast I can see minibuses filled with schoolchildren hitting over 100 mph on this narrow road. Some of these road hogs overtake your vehicle on dangerous bends and I wonder how these drivers gained their licences.
Most of the speeding occurs from Richmond to Charity, where the road is poorly constructed and uneven and can cause speeding drivers to lose control and kill innocent people. All the concrete bridges that I traverse were poorly built by the contractors for the previous administration. I am no road engineer but my intelligence tells me that you cannot use wooden piles and beams to support a concrete bridge about 30 feet long across a deep trench or canal. The top of the concrete bridges starts to wear off which means the concrete mixture is poor.
At Maria’s Delight I saw one of these concrete bridges start to open in the middle; the crack was about 10 inches in width. And the bridge is shifting, which means that the foundation is not sturdy. This is a death trap by itself when you look at it. If someone with a motorcycle or a bicycle fell into that hole, they would surely break their neck or seriously injure themselves. This bridge has been shifting for more than a year now and it seems to me that no one in the administration has seen it. I think they will see it when someone suffers a major accident, and then they will quickly try to fix it. This is the kind of lackadaisical attitude we have to deal with in this region.
The main road is also sinking at various points along the coast too and something urgently needs to be done about it before it gets worse and ends up in the trench. It has not been maintained since it was constructed in the ʼ90s. There are several potholes in the middle of this road from Somerset and Berks to Charity, that pose a threat to life and limb. Since the new NDC chairmen and councillors were installed in these areas, everything seems to be at a standstill; nothing is happening. The trenches are clogged up and the water stinks’ which breeds mosquitoes; the road shoulders are high with antelope grass and goat plimpa ‒ it’s almost like a forest. Some rice farmers in these areas will catch hell to get drainage with their newly sown young rice which will be smothered with duck weed and then die.
Lately I read that the Essequibo road is billed to be rehabilitated; this is good news from the Minister of Public Infrastructure and will be a boost for the coalition government. I am sure that a feasibility study has been carried out on the concrete bridges which are shifting and opening in the middle, so they can be corrected by highly qualified road contractors. The Minister should rebuild this road to accommodate heavier vehicular traffic with more tonnage, as I have noticed that tons of rice, sand, paddy, earth and agricultural produce are moving from Charity to Supenaam then to Georgetown. I would strongly recommend that whenever this road is refurbished it should be maintained on a regular basis by competent contractors who have expertise in road-building.