Every day, road users on the East Coast highway are exposed to grave danger at the turn-off to Atlantic Gardens at exactly the same spot where there was a major traffic crisis on Mother’s Day 2018, which I wrote about in a letter to the media in May.
Eventually, the Ministry of Public Infrastructure offered an apology published in the various newspapers.
Residents of Atlantic Gardens risk injury or even death daily, plus the possibility of serious damage to their vehicles, because they are forced to cross a perilous bridge that was broken up as part of roadworks in that area being done by Chinese contractors and Guyanese engineers.
Huge trucks and tractor trailers traverse this narrow, fragile bridge daily and there is also heavy traffic of other vehicles because it is the only thoroughfare giving access to a major residential community.
Every one of these vehicles and their occupants is taking an enormous risk. The inclement weather is destroying this loam bridge.
Visitors who might not know the area, not knowing the perilous state of the loam bridge and travelling at a moderate speed could end up hurting themselves or damaging their vehicles.
Finding a safe way to cross this partially dismantled bridge is not for the faint of heart. Sand has been dumped there, but the seasonal heavy rainfall has added mud and debris, transforming it into treacherous, slippery slush that has several flooded potholes in it. Some parts of this loam bridge are also breaking away as the water tries to find its way into the gutter.
As such, the risk increases at night in this poorly-lit area. Crossing the slippery wet sand, mud and debris in the dark is a recipe for disaster. Vehicles could easily topple when they encounter potholes hidden by flood-water. God knows what the fate of their occupants would be.
The blame for this lies squarely at the feet of the Chinese contractors and Guyanese engineers in charge of the roadworks. They just go merrily about their business as if they have absolutely no interest in maximizing commuters’ safety and minimizing their inconvenience.
I mentioned some of these issues in my previous letter about the Mother’s Day traffic crisis. After the letter was published, the ministry responsible apologized. This apology was appreciated, but the suffering commuters want real solutions, not cosmetics. Since the apology, what have the project overseers done to resolve the crisis? From what I can see, nothing at all. But wait! I think they dumped some more sand there for the rain to turn into slush.
Do not for one minute think I am being hard on them. I am seeing death there. The two sides of this ‘jokey’ ridiculous bridge are tremendously unstable. This can kill or seriously hurt people. Secondly, the bridge is breaking apart and I am seeing a great tragedy unfolding.
Why aren’t the Guyanese engineers overlooking this project ensuring that the work is properly done? Don’t the Chinese contractors know better? They have been around for a while and should know our culture.
I would not like to think that they only want to make money doing big business and have no consideration for the welfare of the Guyanese people.
This leads me to ask: Who is ensuring that these contractors and engineers are doing their jobs properly with the interest of the Guyanese people at heart? Will it take death, severe injuries or huge lawsuits to teach them to ensure the managers of the roadworks are doing the work properly?
To prove that I am not talking off the top of my head, I am enclosing photographs as clear visual evidence of the danger at the site right now. I trust that the responsible newspapers of this country will publish the pictures to keep the public informed and press those in authority and with a direct mandate to carry out these road works to solve the problem.
I also urge the ministry’s Public Relations Officer who issued the apology for the Mother’s Day crisis to come to the spot and witness first-hand the gravity of the situation. Then, hopefully, the ministry and project overseers will change their flowery words into effective action.
Roshan Khan Snr.