The announcement by President Dr Irfaan Ali, that works are currently ongoing for a new alternative road connecting Diamond to Eccles on the East Bank Demerara corridor in order to ease the traffic congestion, is most welcome.
For years, there have been calls for an alternative road to ease the buildup of traffic at peak hours during both mornings and evenings. The traffic congestion during rush hours in the mornings and evenings is also very stressful for citizens to cope with, especially those commuting to and from the city. It is normal to spend more than a half-hour in the traffic when going or coming from work, especially in areas along the East Bank and East Coast corridors, where there is a huge build-up of traffic daily.
The situation at the Demerara Harbour Bridge is even worse. In addition to the bridge no longer being adequate to accommodate the large volume of traffic on a daily basis, many have complained that the traffic is badly managed by ranks. During rush hours, there is bumper-to-bumper traffic, with some drivers bullying their way through and the Police stationed there seeming helpless to do anything about it.
Certainly, over the years, traffic congestion in the city and other main thoroughfares has gotten worse, and there could be a number of factors responsible for this. What we have noticed is that, although there has been some improvement to the road network over the years, it has not been to the required level to match the demands of road users. Within the last 15 years or so, several new housing schemes were established and several existing ones were expanded across the country, resulting in many more persons commuting to and from the capital city, where they go to school or work. Traffic congestion in the populated areas along the Coast has proven to be a major bugbear over the years.
Also, within the last ten years or so, there has been a five-fold increase in the number of vehicles being driven on the roads, and the road network expansion programme, even though improving, still cannot accommodate this massive increase.
That said, traffic congestion is not a problem that is unique to Guyana, and certainly cannot be totally eliminated. However, there are ways in which the authorities here could work together to manage the situation more effectively, which would result in less hassle for road users. For example, the authorities could seek to ensure that there is a greater Police presence in certain areas, so that there can be a smooth flow of traffic, as drivers are known to break the rules and bully their way when there is no Police presence. The authorities could also designate more routes for traffic diversion, especially during rush hours and in areas where there is a heavy traffic build-up.
However, the long-term solution with the expansion of the country’s road network would take some time. The East Bank/East Coast road expansion project, once completed, would bring much relief to the travelling public. The new roadway would serve as a corridor for communities on the East Bank of Demerara, including Perseverance, Mocha, Providence, Eccles, Peters Hall and Aubrey Barker Road. Instead of going through the hectic Georgetown traffic, the new road link would allow drivers the option of diverting from the East Coast and onto the bypass road to access the East Bank of Demerara.
We urge the authorities to continue to look at ways in which the road network in Guyana could be further expanded, improved, rehabilitated and maintained.