…Port Kaituma residents still complaining about roads
The residents of Barabina, Region One (Barima-Waini) are renewing their pleas for the construction of a new access road to the community, noting that the road’s current state made it impossible to traverse. The road is reportedly under approximately five feet of water affecting the more than 300 residents in the Amerindian community.
“Our major problem is the road issue. Our road issue is that the access to Barabina is in a very terrible state, no transportation can traverse on that road because it is four to five feet in water. It is that way over 20 years,” Toshao Roxanne Skeete said.
Skeete explained that the villagers were exhausted since they would have made several reports to the Regional Administration as well as the other authorities, but to no avail. She explained that the road has been under water since the beginning of the May-June rainy season and as a result, services and goods were limited and affecting the daily lives of the villagers.
In the past, millions were expended on the roadway, which provides a critical link between Barabina Hill and other communities in the area, including the administrative capital of Mabaruma. The affected section lies at the bottom of the hilly community.
The village leader said the roadway was being flooded by the overtopping of a nearby creek, which connects to the neighbouring business community of Kumaka.
The Barabina Road in the Mabaruma sub-region has been in the forefront for a long time, with both the past and present Administrations attempting to fix it. Apart from the Barabina road, several other road networks are in a deplorable state in Region One.
In May of 2016, the Public Infrastructure Ministry rehabilitated the road following a visit by Junior Minister Annette Ferguson. In June 2016, a technical assessment team from the Public Infrastructure Ministry was scheduled to visit the community to look at the Barabina-Matarkai road with the intent of rehabilitation.
Senior Hinterland Engineer at the Public Infrastructure Ministry, Naeem Mohamed had explained that the report would highlight three areas. “First, it will look at the use of a hydrologist to study the water flow to see whether there is a way to find alternative route to divert the water from Barabina itself. Next, it will look at doing a geotechnical report within the area and lastly, it will be looking at the feasibility of an alternative route to Barabina itself,” he said.
Based on those three areas, the team was supposed to determine if additional works on the road would be necessary or if an alternative route to Barabina would be created. However, it is unclear if the team was actually dispatched since no work was subsequently done.
The landscape near the roadway has been flooded for years and works by the Regional Administration, which began in 2011, could not remedy the situation. The responsibility for the roadway was handed over to the Ministry in 2012 and a contract to the tune of $21 million was awarded to Joshi Construction Company to rebuild the roadway in January 2013.
However, works fell behind schedule and in 2014, the contractor ran out of money to complete the project that was approximately 70 per cent completed after expending approximately $15 million on the project. The contractor was subsequently fired and the roadway was left in its flooded state until the Regional Administration recommenced work.
Port Kaituma Road
Port Kaituma residents, particularly in the One Mile area, are also complaining that the road network in their community was in need of urgent repairs. Regional Chairman Brentol Ashley said the authorities were aware of the state of the roads and have ordered that they be repaired.
Ashley said that the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) was aware of the situation in the One Mile area and it would have instructed Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) Chairman Margaret Lambert to utilise parts of the subvention to carry out emergency remedial works.
The Regional Chairman said several road networks in the Region needed emergency repairs and they had to work with “whatever little resources” they had. However, he indicated that steps would be taken to remedy the situation at Port Kaituma when the weather becomes favourable.
In the 2017 National Budget, a sum of $18 million was budgeted for road repairs and maintenance at Barabina Hill (DBST Road); Bunbury Road; Kumaka District Hospital Road; Manawarin Road; Mabaruma Airstrip; and Moruca Road all in Region One. However, no monies were budgeted for the Port Kaituma road in the 2017 National Budget.
In March of this year, Junior Infrastructure Minister Ferguson said that six lots in the Port Kaituma and Mabaruma areas would benefit from upgrades.
The Central Kaituma Wharf road to old road junction, Port Kaituma will be rehabilitated under Lot One. Under Lot Two, phase two, the Port Kaituma to Matthews Ridge section will be repaired. Lot Three will cater for Central Kaituma Catwalk road to Oronoque, Port Kaituma, while under Lot Four, the Port Kaituma road from airstrip to Fitsburg Housing Scheme will be done. The Kumaka junction to the waterfront by the market road area in Mabaruma will be done under Lot Five while the Mabaruma main township road to airstrip road will be rehabilitated under Lot Six.
The Minister had explained that these roads were expected to be completed by the end of 2017. She added that some challenges such as heavy rainfall might delay works, which could see the project being completed in 2018.