Disgruntled drivers plying the roads to several mining areas across Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) continued their strike action on Tuesday, calling for their demands to be met before they could resume operations, even after they met with Regional Chairman Renis Morian.
The drivers, supported by residents, have expressed dissatisfaction over the deplorable state of the Coomacka access road, as well as the dilapidated state of the roads and bridges at Coomacka, Yaribo and Three Friends, and commenced strike action on Monday.
On Tuesday, a large group consisting of residents, drivers and schoolchildren met with Regional Chairman Morian, in front of the office of the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) in Linden where they further vented their frustration regarding the issues.
According to Morian, comprehensive work is needed, but in the meantime, contractors have been sent out to grade the roadway. However, residents and drivers have argued that they did not notice any contractors at the location on Tuesday. They further sought to clarify when the work was expected to be completed, but there was no definite answer provided by the Regional Chairman, who indicated that it depended on the state of the road.
“I can’t even tell you how long a pot of cook-up would take to cook. I can’t say how long, but if we start now, we will finish it to the earliest. I sent letters. There were persons who would have seen me come in to the area,” Morian told the gathering.
Speaking with this publication, one minibus driver, Robert Gentle explained that drivers would not continue to work unless there was improvement, not only at Coomacka, but in neighbouring places such as Yaribo. He further refuted claims by the Regional Chairman that there was a grader already present along the deplorable roadway.
“The road ain’t bad. The road terrible. It nearly impassable. It got some holes so big that if the bus go down and you look at the ground level, you only seeing from the windscreen up. The rest gone down in the ground,” he said.
Similar sentiments were also expressed by minibus driver Mark Peters, who indicated that the situation has been ongoing for a number of years. “We’re in a devastated state right now, because for the past couple years the road is in a very deplorable state. We bus drivers decide to take a stance because we’ve been getting promises year after year, but nothing is being done,” he said.
During the discourse, angry residents claimed no regional official had visited the Three Friends area to take note of their concerns. Residents and drivers alike are contending that all areas must be dealt with.
“If we start back working when the bridge fix up to Coomacka, we would got to punish in Yaribo for the rest of we life. So this thing got to happen straight in to Yaribo. The bridges got to fix. They got people in Yaribo who got truck and when they go and load they does got to walk like two miles to meet home because the truck can’t cross the bridge. In Coomacka, the truck does got to park over the bridge and the driver does got to walk and go home,” Gentle said.
“It got to fix. No truck, nothing can’t pass,” another resident noted.
Based on the results attained, drivers said, they would know how to proceed.
“The Chairman made some promises. At the end of that work, which he promised is going to be done; we will decide the way forward because our expectations have to be met. A very critical part of this exercise is the bridges in Yaribo. Now if these bridges are not fixed, we can’t work. We can’t work until these issues are ironed out. Because if the bus fall in the bridge is another story again. The bridge only hook on lil’ bit of stuff and when the rain fall and that wash out, the bridge falling overboard…” Gentle related.
Outrage over Regional Chairman’s reaction and response
Residents were dissatisfied with the Regional Chairman’s move to meet with them on the roadway during what they described as a “peaceful” exercise, as well as his responses to certain questions which were posed.
Gentle related that he went with ideas to present to the Regional Chairman, but was not given a fair chance to engage him. He noted, however, that he was still waiting to observe what would be done.
Peters said he was also dissatisfied that residents were not given a chance to meet at the office of the Regional Chairman.
Others were dissatisfied over the way in which their questions were answered, and noted that the Regional Chairman refused to listen to their concerns.
“We’re not getting no proper answer. He just don’t want to listen to anything that people have to say. We got to go and block up the road,” a resident noted.