Minibus operators plying the Georgetown-Lethem route are crying foul after their repeated calls to have the road network upgraded have been ignored by Government. They are now pleading for the Government to come up with some solutions to remedy the situation.
The operators are complaining about the condition of the road, noting that it is covered with large potholes, and broken and washed away bridges. “The road is deplorable all the way from Linden. Buses and trucks sticking up right there which is the first part, all the way to Lethem have broken bridges, damaged bridges,” one operator told Guyana Times.
He added that on Sunday one of the bridges “washed away” leaving some buses with passengers stranded. According to another operator, he has been traversing the road for over 28 years and the present condition is by far the worst he had seen.
The bus operators and truck drivers are complaining that due to the condition of the road, their vehicles are being damaged.
“We have to spend $20,000 to $30,000 on every trip to service our vehicles so it is not good for us,” he said.
At the end of January, the Public Infrastructure Ministry announced that the construction for the first phase of the Linden-Lethem road project, which spans from Linden to Mabura, is expected to commence without a hitch, as the Ministry will be working closely with the UK Government towards the success of the project. However, some four months after, the project is yet to begin.
The first phase of the project covers approximately 122.5 kilometres of road from Linden and the construction of a bridge across the Essequibo River at Kurupukari River. The Government as a part of a collaborative effort with the UK Government is seeking to engage a multi-discipline and transport sector-experienced consulting firm to assist in the preparation of a two-component capital project.
The components for this capital project include the upgrade of approximately 122.5km of road between Linden and Mabura Hill (including drainage) and construction of a new single or dual lane fixed bridge across the Essequibo River at the Kurupukari ferry crossing, which is approximately 600 metres long.
While the proposed road upgrade applies only to one section of the Linden-Lethem road, the capital works on the remaining 331.5km of the laterite road will be undertaken through funding from other sources.
The remaining capital works would fall under additional phases and the Public Infrastructure Ministry disclosed that it has already engaged the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) on possible funding for the stretch of road between Mabura Hill and Lethem.
During the 2017 Budget presentation, Finance Minister Winston Jordan speaking about “infrastructure for integration” noted that an infrastructure network that can support rapid economic development requires huge capital investments.
Efforts to contact both Ministers of Public Infrastructure for a comment on the issue proved futile.