Home Letters President Irfaan Ali praised on new access roads
President Irfaan Ali, the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, AG Anil Nandlall, and the Agriculture Ministry have come in for praise for road projects and drainage works that make streets passable, and for easing flooding in outlying areas.
All over the country, roads are being rehabilitated or paved or patched; and new roads and other infrastructural work, like digging new drains or cleaning existing drains, is being done by the Agriculture Ministry in order to open up vast, fresh areas for housing development and farming.
As I travelled around the country, the public showered glowing accolades on the President, the AG, Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha, and Ministers Juan Edghill and Deodat Indar for infrastructural projects.
The President is commended for taking the bull by the horns in regard to road transportation. He is applauded for immediately establishing new roadways along the East Bank of Demerara (Region 4). The President had, some time ago, announced a similar new road project for Region 3: from Parika to the planned new Harbour Bridge that connects West Bank to East Bank across the Demerara River. The East Coast roadway now needs a similar project to connect it with the East Bank.
The public recognises that, while not being directly involved with infrastructure or agriculture, the AG has overall jurisdiction on legal issues pertaining to all Ministries and the Government at large. He gives guidance on all legal matters, including on land and contracts on infrastructure and drainage. In addition, in interactions with the public during Cabinet outreaches and consultations, the AG has given a commitment that Government would rehabilitate existing roads and/or build new roads, and service communities that were neglected during the five years of the coalition regime.
The public reposes confidence in the AG, giving him almost perfect ratings for his performance. Nandlall has had the highest positive ratings among all Ministers in polls conducted in November and January. In his media press conferences, the AG laid out President Ali’s plan on infrastructural work and housing, emphasising that the current road projects are not the major projects planned for the future. The road from Linden to Lethem is on the cards.
The President is applauded for his vision to build new roads that open up vast areas of the country for housing development away from the main public road and the coast. It is visionary leadership. The planned new roads create opportunities for land to be transformed into house lots, as well as for farming and for other aspects of development.
The Diamond-to-Eccles road is welcomed by residents in Georgetown and on the East Bank. As they note, it would ease traffic congestion on the East Bank, where there are bottlenecks during peak hours. Motorists from other areas would also benefit from the new roads bypassing the busy main public road on the East Bank of Demerara. In addition, the new Diamond-Eccles access road would make available land for thousands of new house lots at the back of the industrial area on the side of the main trench that once served the cane fields of the estate. Minister Collin Croal would be pleased that land has become available for housing development.
Other parts of the country also need new and expanded road works. As I observed, for example, the East Coast experience heavy traffic during peak hours. There are several bottlenecks on the road from Georgetown to the East Coast, where a lot of traffic lights hold up traffic. Rehabilitation work was done during the previous regime on that stretch of the road, but parts of the road are uneven, especially around bridges, and some areas are in disrepair. The old format of constructing roads with traffic control lights is not most effective; First World countries avoid that method where practical.
There are too many vehicles on the road from G/town to the East Coast. Government will have to look at overhead or underground passes for passengers, or synchronise traffic lights with the flow of vehicles. Also, roads need to be upgraded and widened, so as to improve conveyance. But East Coast has virtually no space in some villages, with roads running mere feet from people’s yards. It is just a matter of time before cars end up in people’s yards; toddlers may end up playing on the parapet of the main road.
That main road has been courting disaster. An alternative expressway away from residential settlements further inland would be ideal. Government may want to look at Aruba, for example, where land is scarce but Government was able to build a major First World highway away from the main road that runs next to hotels on the beach. A similar expressway thru GuySuCo lands is practical. It can tie Mandela Ave, Sheriff Street, the bypass from Eccles to Diamond, and the planned road at Agricola to the rail line.
An expressway would reduce commuter delays and traffic congestion on the main road. In addition, it will help to reduce accidents on the main road, and by extension fatalities.
The road expansion network into the interior is in keeping with the sustainable policy of Dr Jagan, which was articulated during the early 1960s. Jagan had a workable vision of opening up the interior to agricultural development, animal husbandry and dairy production. He conceived building roads in the interior as well as from farms to markets to facilitate farmers, cattle herders, and poultry producers. President Ali is following in the footsteps of Jagan in connecting the interior with the coast.
With the new roads, President Ali is sending a clear signal that Government would not depend on oil and gas to drive the economy. Government is not relying on oil, but is diversifying the economy with emphasis on food production. Tens of thousands of acres of land will be opened up for farming, cattle rearing, poultry and egg production, and a growing dairy industry.
The public has expressed support for the Government’s new access roads, showering accolades on the work of Ministers Edghill and Indar of Public Infrastructure, and Minister Zulfikar Mustapha of Agriculture.