After years of pleading by residents for work to be done on the East Bank Berbice main access road, Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson, yesterday announced that the project will commence today.
He said that the project will be done in phases, noting that phase one should begin today and be completed in eight months’ time. He made the announcement to residents at Overwinning, Market Square, East Bank Berbice. According to Patterson, initially when they were in talks with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to fund the project it was estimated to cost some $1.8B. However, he said that after they did not receive the necessary support from the IDB due to many reasons, he took it upon himself to work out a lower cost and pleaded with the Ministry of Finance for funding. The project now costs some $1.2B and is being funded by the Government of Guyana.
He told those gathered that the project will commence at Stanleytown and conclude at Everton Village, covering some 5.5 kilometers of road. However, he said, eventually all the way to Mara Village, will see reconstruction.
He said, “The overall objective of this project is to provide a solution to the current difficulty of using the roadway safely and comfortably due to its deteriorated state”. Patterson further noted that with the exception of the Stanleytown, New Amsterdam section, the road is generally in a poor state.
He highlighted that the road supports two lanes of traffic from the township of New Amsterdam all the way to Mara Village, while noting that it provides access to the adjacent housing scheme as well as the agriculture-based communities, which have several drainage structures and bridges with outfalls into the Berbice River.
Patterson told the residents, who were elated by the news, that the deplorable state of the road affects farmers tremendously from accessing all the agricultural lands towards Mara Village. “The general feeling is that there would be significant economic opportunities in agricultural growth if a better road was constructed”, he said.
The works that will be done include site clearance and earthworks, sub-base and base works, pavement works, minor drainage works, incidental road works, traffic signs and road markings and bridges and box culverts.
Patterson further told the residents that they will be given many opportunities as well to be part of the project. He noted that the minor works will be tendered out to the region’s contractors. He added that whenever material needs to brought to the site, trucks from the area will be hired. He also said that some employment will be available to persons in the area.
Patterson noted that protest actions were staged in 2009, 2012, 2013 and 2014 due to the deplorable state of the road.
The residents gathered were also given the opportunity to ask the Minister questions and make suggestions in relation to the road project.
Most residents told Stabroek News that finally they are witnessing progress, as they feel the minister was genuine in his announcement and that they truly believe that the reconstruction will finally begin.
Also present at the meeting was the Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan.