Residents of Victoria, East Coast Demerara, gathered yesterday morning, armed with placards, to protest the state of their main road, which they say is in a “deplorable and impassable” condition and they are asking the relevant authorities to fix it “immediately.”
The residents gathered at the top of Middle Walk Road, Victoria from as early as 7:00am, demanding the government turn its attention to the community, and the road that they say has been causing them severe inconvenience over the past decade.
The road is littered with large potholes, some spanning the entire width of the road. There are also structural faults where certain parts of the road are of varying levels, thus making it difficult for cars and other vehicles to traverse on a daily basis.
Stabroek News arrived at the scene around 11:00am yesterday, where the residents were walking along the approximately one mile long road chanting and encouraging other residents to join them and “let their voices be heard.”
“Our voices must be heard,” “Come out, come out,” “We have been neglected, we need new roads,” filled the community as the protestors bore the brunt of the midday sun to show this newspaper the condition of the road that is reportedly used by some 7,000 people daily. The crowd grew larger as they moved along, and eventually the protesters stopped at the end of the asphalt road, which is connected to a mud road.
According to Elroy Skeete, the vice chairman, of the Haslington/Golden Grove Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC), the road has been in a deplorable condition for about two decades and “has been getting worse and worse every day”. Skeete explained that the road has never been repaired since it was built in the 1980s.
“After then nothing has been done to this road. All that we have been doing is patching and patching and it has reached a stage where it is beyond repair,” he said, while noting that the NDC has done patchwork on the road some five times.
“Last year, we patched the road for the 50th anniversary and for emancipation day. It was surprising to see the condition of the road again. The NDC cannot afford to patch all these roads all the time,” he said, while pointing out that the residents and the NDC are of the opinion that the road is “beyond patchwork” and needs to be completely rebuilt since there are noticeable structural faults.
In addition to the works on the road by the NDC, Skeete also said that the residents came together and donated materials to fix the road. Some of them even used their builders waste to fill the large potholes and level the road, to make it easier for cars to pass. However, the road continues to revert to its deplorable condition, while worsening every day from the heavy flow of traffic.
“What if someone has an emergency in here and an ambulance got to come? Imagine the time he gonna take to reach the people house and then go out back,” one resident said.
“It is shameful to say that we are the first village and we are being treated like this. We are being neglected for too long. They sending money to victims overseas but they can’t fix these roads and telling us ‘stupidness.’ We aren’t dunce and you not talking to dunces,” said a resident, who identified himself as Mr. Cyrus, to Stabroek News yesterday.
Another resident, Cheryl McCoy said that residents have their backs against the wall since taxis and buses refuse to use the road because of its condition. “…And when a taxi decide that he coming in here they does charge you way more and is not like you got a choice, because is not like nuff of them does come in here,” the woman said.
McCoy said that she operates a wholesale and retail business and has been losing customers since the various companies which deliver goods to her are very hesitant to use the roads. “The companies refuse to come in because of the state of the road and we are losing business. I would like to see the road do immediately, urgently,” she said.
In addition to goods, residents also highlighted that truck drivers who are delivering construction materials in the area have also refused to do so, since the trucks often find themselves stuck on the road.
Persons living in the area who have vehicles related that they are often forced to leave their vehicles and take public transportation. “People frighten bad to use the road because it brukking up dey cars. Only the other day I had to replace a tyre and tyres aren’t cheap. Plus sometimes your exhaust and other parts of the car always grazing the road and you just incurring more damages,” another resident explained, while pointing out that sometimes persons are forced to hitch a ride on a donkey or horse drawn cart.
“When and where you does ever see that? Is like we going back to primitive days,” the man said.
The residents expressed that they are not going to accept more patch work and will only be satisfied if the road is fixed properly. “We also want it to be now. Not then, not any time after. We don’t want to wait, we have been suffering for too long and we want it to be done immediately,” Cyrus said, while pointing out that if they are not contacted by the Ministry of Public Infrastructure and given a “proper acknowledgement,” then they are going to continue protesting until something definitive is done to easy them of their daily plight of traveling the “primitive road.”
“We are not accepting no capping. We need a heavy-duty road and once that one is finished we are willing to wait for the other roads in the area to be fixed but we need this one fixed now,” Skeete said.
Also present at the protest and inspecting the road was a Clerk of Works from the Ministry of Public Infrastructure who related to residents that he was compiling a report, which will then be assessed and a way forward decided on. He told the gathering that by Friday they should have a response and an answer on the Ministry’s position on the road.