Development at Lethem, but will this be a pitched road?
Stabroek News
January 20, 2002

Dear Editor,

In the month of December I became aware of the project, which was already in progress, for pitching of the main roads in the township of Lethem. My mum, in excitement, telephoned me in Georgetown to tell me of this new development which would also affect the road in front of our residence and business location. No more locking up of the windows of our home to keep out the heavy movement of dust which characterizes life in the Rupununi! On hearing this news, a wave of excitement invaded me. My hometown was indeed in a phase of transition. Expectations are high! A new modern gas station, a supermarket, electricity twenty four hours, laying of new pipelines in the township, construction of a modern highway bridge over the Takutu river linking Guyana to Brazil, indeed, these are legitimate reasons for the residents to be expectant of a brighter future.

However, my concern is for what appears to be an incomplete road project, which upon enquiry I am informed, is completed at least to the area ending in front of the GPL power station. Just before I left for Lethem to spend the holidays, my mum told me that she observed men at work spraying pitch onto the road, following which they were seen washing gravel and spreading same over the pitch. I travelled to Lethem with the expectation of seeing a pitched road equal to those in the contiguous border town of Bon Fin, whose main roads have been pitched more than ten years ago (the township of Bon Fin came into being after Lethem), a road the residents of Lethem can be proud of, taking into consideration the flow of persons visiting the town including the Brazilians. Yes, a long term investment of our scarce national resources which will give returns over a number of years. Maybe I would even see road signs cautioning our restless young drivers to use the road cautiously and not add to the road fatality figures.

However, on arriving in Lethem, I was welcomed with a road which appeared as if only gravel was thrown on it. I was reassured by my mum that indeed pitch was under the gravel, however, during my numerous walks over the road, provoking the gravel under my shoes, I am yet to see signs that the road has been pitched. I take it that the pitch is there, and that the work is incomplete. It has to be! But this begs the question: Why would the contractor go to such pains of washing all that gravel to put over the pitch to leave for weeks and then come back later to wash more gravel to lay again before putting another layer of pitch? Or is it that no more gravel has to be laid? If so, still, by the time the contractor is ready to put on the next layer of pitch there will be no gravel on the road. I am no engineer and maybe there is some reasonable explanation why the road works are being conducted in such a manner. I believe that it is usual in the administration of such projects for there to be supervisory personnel involved and security in place to ensure that projects are executed in a satisfactory manner. Maybe the project executing unit has a reasonable explanation for the situation. Or should the contractor be defaulting, there are checks in place to ensure that he completes the projects in a satisfactory manner. As of this date, no further work has commenced on the road.

Secondly, I was wondering why hasn't electricity been provided to those residents of Lethem who live immediately over the Tabatinga Creek? I noticed electricity lines passing through the area, oblivious to the number of private homes (over 30 houses), to supply electricity to an industrial site which, as of present, has no buildings or thing on it and which the residents are not sure when its take off will occur. Further, just nearby to the proposed Industrial Site, electricity lines run and electricity is provided to the Lethem Rodeo Site and an established private business. This situation, to me, is inequitable and I am sure that the many persons who live in the homes over which those electricity lines run to supply areas where there are no buildings, must feel that they are being treated contemptuously in the development drive in progress. Maybe there is an explanation for this too. But the people must be informed why things are the way it is and what is being done to correct the situation. And of course, deadlines must be given!

I believe the above concerns are shared by all of the residents of Lethem and it would augur well for some explanation to be given to satisfy those residents affected that the Lethem development programme is one of inclusiveness. Further, that the long awaited pitched road comes to pass sooner than later.

Yours faithfully,

M. Johnson