Bad roads woes
Hubu, Sophia, Bee Hive residents plead for relief By Kim Lucas
Stabroek News
June 26, 2002

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Horse-carts barely make it through. Cows and other animals seem to have carefully mapped out routes inside their heads. But some people are still at a loss as to how they should traverse certain pathways called roads.

Just recently, several persons both from within and outside the city complained to Stabroek News about the terrible state of the streets they live on, and the hardships they endure as a result.

One resident of Bee Hive (South), East Coast Demerara, said some of the roads in the village are so bad that villagers are left on their own whenever there is an emergency.

"Plenty times children and old people fall down and when we have a sick, no vehicle don't want to come in," the man told this newspaper.

Stabroek News visited the area a few weekends ago, and while looking for the 'bad' streets, two reporters and a photographer found themselves and their vehicle stuck in what can only be described as one of the most horrendous lanes. It started to rain and that made the situation worse.

Looking out the window, the sight was bleak - nothing but a wide expanse of mud, gigantic potholes that looked like mini swimming pools with precarious pieces of boards and dried coconut branches across them. This newspaper later learnt that that "road" used to be a train-line, and was being made worse by heavy-duty vehicles.

The situation was no better in certain sections of the new Non Pariel Housing Scheme, also on the East Coast Demerara. And by the time the party made it back to the city with mud-coated feet, a man from 'D' Field Sophia, was waiting to complain about his "street."

Thomas Nedd, a taxi driver, said that he and other car owners are forced to pay $300 a night to securely lodge their vehicles on the main road. Pointing out that other roads in the squatting scheme have been done, Nedd said whether it rains or the sun shines, the road in 'D' Field remains in the same deplorable state.

So this newspaper took off on another road trip, and from the safe distance of the asphalt-paved main road, observed Black and White Street, which divides 'C' and 'D' Fields.

The first sight that greeted this newspaper was of a man lifting his motorcycle over a bad patch of road. Balancing precariously, the man stepped cautiously over a huge water-filled pothole on a makeshift bridge, designed with handrail. His pillion rider followed gingerly and, after skipping and hopping for some distance, the pair got back on the motorcycle and continued their journey.

The Parika to Hubu road on the East Bank Essequibo is in the same condition, the only difference being that there are no bridges over the numerous potholes.

Most of the affected residents are agitating for the "authorities" to take notice of the roads and do something. But when contacted, an official with the Ministry of Public Works said that body was only responsible for "declared public roads." The list is long, and neither the Sophia road nor the others at Bee Hive, Non Pariel and Hubu are on it.

However, the ministry has an established Miscellaneous Roads Programme which assists in making some non-public roads more passable.

"If the NDCs [neighbourhood democratic councils] or people contact us and make a request, we process that request and our engineers inspect the roads. [But] the assistance is on a first come depends also on [among other things] the amount of users and the facilities," the official stated.

These decisions are made in conjunction with NDCs, RDCs (regional democratic councils), municipal councils and the ministries of Local Government and Finance, to ensure that there is no duplication.

According to the Public Works official, a delegation from Bee Hive recently made representation to the ministry about the bad roads in the area. The following day, engineers were sent to the village to assess the road. That road has now been added to the 166 others on the ministry's miscellaneous list.

But before the end of the year, the official promised residents of Hubu could expect some more "remedial" works to be done on that road. The consultant has already been contacted.

Stabroek News understands that it is a different matter where the roads in the housing schemes are concerned, since those areas fall directly under the Ministry of Housing and Water.

But according to the Works official, residents don't necessarily have to wait on the "authorities" to fix the streets, since a vigilant NDC, for example, could work wonders.

"There are funds available from SIMAP [the Social Impact Amelioration Programme], (the) Basic Needs (Trust Fund) and (formerly) Futures Funds, where residents can put a component - in some cases a quarter in either labour, money or materials - and get the rest from these organisations to do their roads. All they have to do is approach these organisations," the Works official stated.

Last year, the Ministry of Works rehabilitated about 50 roads under the Miscellaneous Roads Programme, in addition to several public roads for which the body is responsible.