Facilities are needed at the Takutu bridge
Stabroek News
September 3, 2001

Dear Editor,

The Takutu bridge-building venture has commenced. Consequently, it is correct to assume that plans are afoot to ensure that the services necessary to maintain the smooth functioning of the bridge and highway are being formalized.

When the highway opens there should be in place a toll gate to collect tolls that would be used for road maintenance. Also in place should be an immigration facility to process the throngs of visitors and restrict the possibility of the movement of illegal substances and other activities that such a bridge will invite. There will also be a need to provide vehicle assistance such as towing and repairs, coupled with eating establishments and lavatory facilities.

In the said vein, there should also be a medical establishment to provide assistance to any injured. Such medical assistance should consist of ambulances and trained medical personnel who could rush the injured to a nearby medical facility. Since portions of this highway will be remote, the government would have to allocate funds and work out the other logistics with the intention of saving lives and protecting Guyana's sovereignty.

There must also be in place law enforcement personnel to maintain the much needed civility and to apply the laws of Guyana. These laws most likely will be quite different from those of Brazil and would be subject to differing interpretations. There will also be a need for Portuguese-speaking policemen, border guards and medical personnel.

Living quarters for the border and law enforcement personnel would have to be built. These dwellings may be bivouac or permanent, and provide many of the comforts of home. It is not good enough to build an interstate highway and leave the above to chance. Police patrols along the highway will be necessary to counter acts of bush piracy.

Initially the government would have to provide funding to put in place the above services for this highway venture, but it is hoped that such investment would be recouped with benefits accruing to the country of Guyana in the near future. Roads are a means through which development takes place. At first, this road may be more beneficial to Brazil, but if Guyana is to grow economically, this road is a necessary instrument.

The argument that this road will be a means by which illegal activity will flourish is valid, but such a possibility should not hinder the pursuit of such a venture. The long-term economic benefits would outweigh the expected illegal activities.

Guyana's disadvantage is that it is not an industrial economy, therefore the goods and services exported to Brazil will be at a minimum. But over time, as the economy grows, that disadvantage would be reduced.

My other concern is that Guyana, because of a lack of funds, should not give up control of that part of the highway that straddles Guyanese soil.

Yours faithfully,

Patrick Barker