East Coast highway contractor, police to meet on severe congestion

Drivers using a section of the unfinished road in a bid to bypass the snail-paced traffic. (East Coast Demerara Road Project Issues Photo)

The contractor for the East Coast Demerara Road Widening and Improvement Project is expected to meet with the police soon to discuss possible remedies that can aid in easing the daily traffic congestion during peak hours, Traffic Chief Linden Isles says.

“We have to try to regulate the traffic… we are expected to meet with the contractors soon and we will have to ask them how best they can work around the peak hours in the morning and afternoons,” said Isles. China Railway First Group Guyana Co Ltd (CRFG) is the contractor for the multi-billion project which is expected to be completed by August 2019.

The road widening and improvement project between Beterverwagting and Mon Repos has left consumers complaining bitterly of the delays they face daily from the snail-paced traffic.

Many have used social media to vent their frustration at the daily traffic build-ups. On the Facebook page, East Coast Demerara Road Project Issues, persons have spoken up about the poor traffic management.

Commenting on this, Isles said the police are fully aware of the situation and are doing all they can at the moment. He said traffic ranks are deployed to areas that experience severe traffic congestion on the ECD highway. He emphasised that they are trying their best to ensure the smooth flow of traffic but they are hindered by the condition of the temporary road.

“We have noticed this, and where there is traffic, we have placed ranks to monitor and control the traffic congestion. However, the temporary road that is created, has some craters and potholes. This is preventing the vehicles from travelling at a normal speed,” the Traffic Chief said.

He emphasised that ranks are placed at strategic points in the mornings and afternoons to assist with the flow of traffic but due to the road being under construction, there are delays.

The Facebook page created also highlights other traffic issues during non-peak hours.

“No traffic management. People (are) using the middle of the road which is cordoned with tapes as a third lane. This creates a dangerous situation since they have to cut in front of you to merge into the actual lane. The contractor can simply put barriers to prevent entry,” a post on the page in late September, said.

Another post on October 7, observed that the road is not properly equipped with signage as “big drops (are not) cordon off” and heavy duty machinery are without reflectors.

The contracting firm in July, had advised the general public that the company is “accelerating the pace of our work to ensure the successful and timely completion of this monumental project.” CRFG had pleaded with road users to be aware of all signs, detours and construction along the highway.

In February, Stabroek News had reported on the toll the road construction had taken on business entities along the ECD.

Business owners along sections of the thoroughfare were very angry over what they dubbed as a “lack of consideration being shown to them by engineers working on the project” after some of them were unable to access their properties due to the construction works.

However, as the project progressed, business owners were able to regain access to their business premises, and residents of the areas where the project is being executed, said that they are pleased with the project’s pace and are eager for its completion, this newspaper had reported.

Work on the project began last year August and is expected to be completed by August 2019. The project will see the widening of the carriageway from a two-lane road into four lanes between Better Hope and Annandale. After Annandale, there will be an asphaltic concrete surface upgrade until Belfield.

The project will result in 26 structures being widened to enable the four-lane road and two bridges will also be constructed to facilitate the road’s expansion. Additionally, 11 traffic light signals will be installed at various intersections, along with street lights, road safety signs and other speed reduction devices.

The contract was awarded to China Railway First Group Company Limited to the tune of US$46,995,941.34, with funding from the Government of Guyana and the Export-Import Bank of China.

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