Bartica woman died after marooned two days on Puruni Trail

Patricia Joseph

A sixty-four-year-old Bartica woman died on Saturday after being stranded for close to two days on the decrepit Puruni Trail in Region Seven.

Patricia Joseph known as  Patsy of  West Indies Housing Scheme, Bartica, Cuyuni Mazaruni, was travelling to her workplace at Puruni Backdam where she was employed as a cook at a guest house.

Persons in the mining industry for the past months have been complaining of the impassable state of the trail and the expenses they would have incurred while transporting items to mining camps. Calls have been made to the responsible authorities for urgent repairs.

Lorraine Joseph, the woman’s daughter-in-law yesterday told Stabroek News that the family is seeking answers on her demise. She noted that her death has come as a shock to the family.

A truck stuck on the deplorable trail.

“We don’t know what happened on the trail but on Saturday morning, one of her daughters received a phone call and was told Miss Patsy died on the trail while going. I didn’t believe, so I call up Miss Yvette (her mother-in- law’s boss) and asked if it is true and she said `yes’. The truck man that was taking her in, with goods for Miss Yvette called and said she died in the truck,” Lorraine related.

An autopsy performed on Wednesday at the Bartica Hospital Mortuary gave her cause of death as ruptured arteries. According to the daughter-in-law, the pathologist explained to the family that the condition could have arisen from stress and fatigue.

Stabroek News was told that the truck was stuck and left stranded on the deplorable trail at Takutu Backdam.

The current state of the Puruni Trail

“She was not sick at least to our knowledge she was not sick and we don’t know what happened on the trail. We don’t know how long she was in the truck for but it seems and it is believable that she was distressed by the condition of the road,” said Lorraine, who pointed out that it was only on Tuesday the truck in which her mother- in- law was travelling reached its destination.

The woman emphasised that the family is still seeking clarity on her death and noted that they are hoping that the truck driver will be able to offer some answers when he returns to Bartica.

“But onto now we haven’t heard the full story as to what happened on the trail and we would like  if the truck driver can come and tell us what took place. We would like to know what was happening to her before she died,” the daughter in law said.

“She come to me at the market here on Wednesday and said she going back to the interior on Thursday…She tell me `man you must call meh’ and I said alright and don’t spend so long as the last time  cause she spent seven months before she came out for Christmas,” Lorraine recounted from her last conversations with her mother-in-law.  Joseph was planning on spending three months in the interior.

Lorraine said the boss woman after learning of the tragedy on the trail, sent an empty truck to transport the body to Bartica. She noted that, the body arrived at the Bartica Hospital Mortuary late Saturday afternoon.

An article appearing in Thursday’s edition of the Stabroek News reported Cherly Williams, Head of the National Mining Syndicate on Tuesday renewing a call for government and the responsible authorities to fix the trail.

The article stated that the road, which runs from Itaballi through Papishao, is the only entrance and exit to various sections of the Cuyuni-Mazaruni district and Williams said because of its condition, most miners struggle to transport supplies that are vital to keeping their operations afloat.

“We are pleading once again with the government, the Ministry of Infrastructure, [and] the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission [GGMC] to fix the Puruni Road and rid miners of the trials currently faced to access mining areas,” she said, while questioning the purpose of miners paying taxes and royalties if they cannot receive the benefit of a “decent road to access our mining properties.”

Stabroek News understands that a contract has been awarded to fix the road, However , Williams said it appears as if the contractor is ill-equipped and cannot take on the job.

“There is no progress. We are calling on the committee which selects contractors to repair roads to be mindful in their selection process,” she said, while explaining that the last time she personally visited the area was in December last year and there was heavy-duty equipment present along the road but no work was being done.

Yesterday, the Ministry of Public Infrastructure (MPI) said that a contract has been signed for the rehabilitation and construction of the Itaballi to Puruni Road and actual works shall commence “within the upcoming weeks”.

MPI said in a statement that while the responsibility for this road falls specifically under the GGMC, the Ministry has recognized the urgency  of repairs and assures that all efforts are being made by the Ministry to advance the efforts of the GGMC to have this road rehabilitated.

“The Ministry  therefore takes this opportunity to reiterate its commitment in lending its assistance to working with the GGMC in having this route addressed as a matter of priority. The Ministry further expresses its apologies for the constant delays and the difficulties experienced by the communities”, the statement said.

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