The Regional Democratic Council (RDC) of Region Two is calling on the Ministry of Public Infrastructure (MPI) to upgrade the Essequibo Coast Public Road which it says is continuing to suffer rapid deterioration.
Regional Chairman Devanand Ramdatt, in a press statement explained that several areas along the coast, particularly between Somerset and Charity are rapidly deteriorating and as such, he is calling on the Ministry to address the issue.
Ramdatt said that road users are at present dealing with huge potholes, the sinking of approaches of bridges, excessive vegetation along the road shoulders and malfunctioning street lights.
Efforts by Stabroek News to elicit a comment from MPI on this matter have failed.
Similar complaints have been made by residents about the Charity Access Road and several streets in the Extension Housing Scheme.
Stabroek News was told that when it rains, pedestrians are forced to wait several minutes for vehicles to navigate the potholes and ditches since the place is usually messy, making it very difficult for persons to walk without being splashed with dirty water.
Expressing frustration and concern on the issue, one resident who spoke to Stabroek News on condition of anonymity, said that he is shocked that the Charity/Urasara Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) and the Regional Administration has allowed the Main Access Road in Charity to deteriorate to such a state.
“The part of the road in Charity that is, at its worst, is because of neglect and negligence on the part of the NDC and the Regional Administration. The potholes in the road are causing damage to property because as a vehicle owner, it is hard to go around the holes and then it leads my vehicle to being damaged. You won’t want to see the condition of that place when it rains. It is very unsightly and messy and when there is heavy traffic, everything becomes worse. As residents, we are again pleading with those in authority to look into the state and condition of the public road, and also the streets in the scheme because some streets are getting worse by the day,” he added.
Residents further allege that inferior works done by contractors have also led to the early depletion of the road and streets in Charity since the contractors only filled the potholes with loam instead of using proper materials.
Chairman of the Charity/ Urasara NDC, Beatrice Mittelholzer in an invited comment, said that representation was made by the NDC to have the streets in the Extension Scheme repaired.
“We did correspondence and letters for all the streets in the Charity Housing Scheme and we were indeed called to collect the material. However, we were told that the grader that [we] would need to use to load the material into our trailer is down. I was recently visited by the Vice Chairman [Juliet Coonjah] who informed me of this. The Region under the Ministry of Infra-structure started works on the streets in the Scheme but they run out of the main material that is to be used for rehabilitating the streets. Because of this, works had to be paused, and also, because of the weather but works will definitely continue for the New Year.”
Asked about the state of the Charity Public Road, Mittelhollzer noted that the Ministry of Public Infrastructure started repairs to the road but had to discontinue work because of the rainy weather.
She commented that the Regional Executive Officer (REO) Rupert Hopkinson had recently visited the area and had promised that repairs to the roads will be continued as soon as the weather lets up.
“The main parts of the road that is in a deplorable state is because two businessmen lifted the part in front of their businesses making it higher than the road which in turns causes a settlement of water because the water has nowhere to run off. Even if there is a little hole, the road will continue to get worse because when it rains, all the water is settled there and vehicles traverse there on a daily basis making it worse. These businessmen were not to lift the areas. If people continue doing what they want to do causing damages, how can you blame the REO?”
Mittelholzer made this comment after several persons used their Facebook pages to cast blame on the REO for what some called “poor management.”
One such resident, business owner and President of the Essequibo Chambers of Commerce, Deleep Singh, in a recent Facebook post said, “Charity Public Road is in a deplorable condition. Been like this for quite a while. Just poor quality patching been done. Apart from the usual commuters, 1500 school children walk on this road every day. Urgent attention needed. Calling on the Hon. Minister of Infrastructure to look into this and also our street lights not working for over 10 years. It seems to me Charity is not in Region 2. REO NEEDS TO COME HERE MORE OFTEN. All our trenches and main koker needs maintenance work to avoid a next flooding.”
The Regional Chairman has since said that attempts have been made to engage the ministry. However, they have not yet received a response.
“The RDC is disappointed that requests made to the Minister of Public Infrastructure, to have these important matters addressed, remain unanswered,” Ramdatt stated.
Nevertheless, he noted that being cognizant of the high rates of road accidents, a Road Safety Committee had been established comprising key stakeholders.
“The Ministry of Public Infrastructure ought to closely engage the RDC, as the Ministry utilizes public funds to implement projects within the region. Sharing of Bills of Quantities and related details on Contracts is very much needed in an effort to achieve transparency and accountability,” the Region Chairman said.
In the meantime, Ramdatt has stated that the RDC will continue to push for the details on future plans for the installation of lights along the public road ways and the upgrading of the entrance at the Good Hope Ferry Stelling, among other issues.
“The RDC remain[s] committed and openly pledges its cooperation to partner with the Ministry of Public Infrastructure to act in the best interest of the residents,” the statement concluded.