In bad weather the long roads leading into Region Nine can seem like another country. At times like this the gap between coastal and hinterland communities appears at its starkest. After the relentless rains batter the fragile red earth surface of the road to Lethem it exposes it to the mercy of the huge, heavy trucks heading for Lethem, laden with supplies of all sorts. The truck drivers have no clear idea as to whether or not they will get there. They may reach a point where, without help, the road will prove impassable. There is a knock-on effect. The goods on the laden truck may eventually become in short supply.
When we got to Lethem about two weeks ago we met a community that appeared to have good reason to celebrate. Contractors had finally been recruited by the government, to surface the roads and install an underground concrete drainage system. A businessman named Anil Narine told us that the flooding that usually affected both social and commercial life after every brisk downpour had persistently sucked some of the economic life out of the community. It would, he said, be good to finally be able to cross the roads and drainage in Lethem off the list of ‘to do’ things.
The bigger headache remained getting to Lethem by road during the seasonal inclement weather. Once the roads become impassable there was no choice beyond the more costly aviation option. The heavy dependence on the condition of the access road keeps the community guessing…..