New roads helping hinterland farmers access markets
Stabroek News
April 4, 2003

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A new network of roads has been completed in Region Eight (Potaro/Siparuni) and parts of Region Nine (Upper Takatu/Upper Essequibo) making it possible for farmers to access markets for their produce more quickly and at less cost.

Minister of Local Government, Harripersaud Nokta, at a press briefing held yesterday said the 225-mile road passed through the communities of Maikwak, Kamana, Chenapau, Kopinang, Waipa, Tappa, Orinduik, Kurukubaru, Mutum, Kabak, Kato and Tusenang in Region Eight. In Region Nine communities such as Yurong Peru, Toka, Karasabai, Marabaikau, Rukumutu and Tiperu are served by the new roads. The Region Eight stretch has a distance of 175 miles while the Region Nine section runs for 52 miles. He said the works were done at a cost of over $21M over the past three years.

A Government Information Agency press release stated that as a result of the new roads, vehicles would be able to travel from Georgetown to most of the Amerindian communities in the two regions. Prior to the roads being built, the only access to many of these communities was by aircraft, at a cost too high for most people to cope with, the press release said.

It added that the Amerindians living in this part of Guyana were mostly Patamona and Makushi tribes and they primarily fished, mined, hunted and farmed, suffering social and economic stagnation because of a lack of markets for their produce. They would suffer great losses when transporting their goods over the mountains and produce was destroyed before they could reach a buyer. The GINA press release said government services such as health, education and transport would be enhanced with faster delivery by officials living in these communities as a result of the development of the roads.

Minister Nokta disclosed that the works were completed by members of the various Amerindian communities, who used only traditional means for land clearing and preparation. He said that no surveyor, consultant or engineer visited the area. All charting and planning as to where to locate the roads was done by the Amerindians, according to the Minister.

Bridges along the network of roads are still to be completed and for this, the Social Impact Amelioration Programme will be approached for funding, the Minister said.

Nokta said that because of this road development, the way had been opened for expansion of the tourism industry.

Region Eight Executive Officer, Peter Ramoutar said that over the past three years, the road had been gradually developed into a state where vehicles could pass, although it could not yet be described as a highway. A bulldozer, for which allocation has been made in this year’s budget, will be used for further clearing and levelling.

Present also at the briefing were Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Phulander Kandhi and Regional Chairman of Region Eight, Senor Bell. (Johann Earle)

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