My family and dozens of other residents of Atlantic Gardens were thoroughly harassed when they were caught up in total traffic chaos on the East Coast Demerara highway on Mother’s Day at about 9:30 am simply because the persons responsible for road works do not give two hoots about commuters’ safety and convenience.
On Mother’s Day, my family had to travel from our Atlantic Gardens residence to attend a function at the Church of the Unification in Georgetown.
They left in reasonable time to be punctual, but when they arrived at the turnoff into the highway, they were stunned to see unrestrained confusion and havoc in the traffic at the intersection.
They found out that the brilliant Chinese builders and Guyanese engineers had decided that Mother’s Day morning was the best possible time for them to do a major excavation right in the middle of one of the most heavily traversed highways in Guyana on one of the biggest observances in the year.
Furthermore, they did not think it was necessary to give the residents of Atlantic Gardens due notice in advance and did not even see the need to put up a sign to let people know what they were doing. They casually went about their business while traffic built up all around with frustrated commuters clueless about where to pass.
Remember, it was Mother’s Day. Anyone with a brain between their ears knows that Guyanese get out of their homes and do a lot on this day. There are countless activities and functions on Mother’s Day . Furthermore, many people go to church and mandir on Sundays. Sundays are big market days in some areas.
So you can imagine the chaos that occurred because of the road works that caught everyone by surprise on the East Coast highway that day. Traffic was backed up left, right and centre with frustrated commuters not knowing how or when they would get out of the mess.
I have nothing personal against the Chinese contractors, but would they do such a thing on a day of heightened activity in China?
Our Guyanese engineers should know better because they know what the traffic situation is like on Mother’s Day and on Sundays. Why didn’t they advise the Chinese contractors that no major road works should be done on a main highway on that day?
Why didn’t they put up signs to alert people to the fact that they would have restricted entry to their communities because of excavation works? Why didn’t they inform the public of the time frame in which these works would take place? Someone could have also distributed fliers to that effect as people were entering Atlantic Gardens.
I have a video of an old lady walking with a cane, crossing the road works by balancing precariously on a piece of wood, looking like she could fall at any moment.
She had the persona of an old retired teacher. As she was balancing on this wood to cross, she was complaining that the engineers could have given notice so that people could plan appropriately.
My family was able to get out by crossing the muddy plank with their dress shoes. They were able to be on their way because someone on the road lent them a car to get to the event and they arrived a bit late.
I am very disappointed with this short-sighted approach by persons overseeing road works. This is slackness; it reflects contempt for the public.
Let me point out to the Ministry of Public Infrastructure and the Government of Guyana and the NDCs and REO and whoever else has a stake in road works, that when such work is being done, especially when it will disrupt a major thoroughfare or a bridge, entrance or exit to a highly populated area, they have to put up signs to alert the public.
A few days after, my wife had to visit the Grand Coastal Hotel for an appointment.
Coming out from the exit area, her car got stuck right by the highway. She heard a sound and couldn’t move forward or backward.
Another driver approached and started blowing the car horn frantically. Eventually, that person reversed and went along their way. Another gentleman came along to see what was going on.
They discovered that the Chinese and Guyanese doing road works on that entrance were using steel rods, but they failed to secure the rods properly and several inches protruded. It ripped out her bumper and damaged the car, causing it to be immobilized.
This damage is what caused the car to stop unexpectedly, which not only put my wife in danger of an accident, but also inflicted on us the expense of repairing the car.
Do these Chinese contractors and the Guyanese engineers working with them really know what they are doing?
Who in their right mind would do road works and leave steel rod ends exposed to endanger and inconvenience road users?
This is not good enough. Road works, or for that matter any other public infrastructure works must be done with utmost regard for the public’s convenience and safety.
My intention is not to knock the Ministry or the Government. I am annoyed at the Chinese contracting supervisors and our Guyanese engineers.
However, my advice to the Ministry of Public Infrastructure is to create a protocol guidance for opening up bridges in areas where large numbers of people live to prevent annoyance and complications when the works being done can become a major hindrance to traffic.
Roshan Khan Sr.