THE MINISTRY of Public Works and the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development on Monday signed two contracts totalling $110 million for road works in two communities in Wakenaam, Essequibo Islands, Region Three.
According to Minister within the Ministry of Public Works, Deodat Indar, government has committed to constructing one kilometre of new concrete road from Maria Johanna to Ridge to the tune of $48 million, and another one kilometre of road from Meer Zorg to Zeelandia for an additional $62 million.
Minister Indar noted that for years, residents on the island have unavoidably traversed near impassable roads which have outlived their time. He stated that not only is the existing infrastructure in the aforementioned communities deplorable, but it is also ancient and much unlike the modern, asphalted roads found in other parts of the island.
It was previously disclosed by the Ministry of Public Works that the two communities have a collective five kilometres of roadway in a “deplorable” state.
According to Minister Indar, the government has put a strategic plan in place to ensure that the works are done in phases until its completion.
“The residents of Wakenaam have cried bitterly about the roads in Ridge and Zeelandia. In subsequent visits by myself and Minister Dharamlall, we have [been] met with these cries from the residents, we have seen it, we have walked the ground and we understand the hardships to get transportation. It’s very expensive for the residents to get a taxi to take them around there and the ones [sic] that drive, the roads are so bad, it damages [sic] their vehicle. Generally the roads are in a deplorable state,” Minister Indar said.
He stated that the new concrete roads are also being constructed as a way to modernise the infrastructure and provide a more accessible commute across the island. He said the impending work will significantly improve the standard of living of residents who reside in the targeted communities.
Further, the minister highlighted that the upgrades to the road networks will also provide opportunities for improved commerce and innovation across the island. He explained that new roads will provide a smoother journey for business people to move their produce and products to and from the island, thus decreasing the transportation cost, while increasing the opportunity for business.
Meanwhile, Local Government Minister Nigel Dharamlall further reiterated government’s commitment to providing the residents with easier access to their communities. He noted that the new roads will not only ease the burden of damage to vehicles, but it will also benefit the schoolchildren who have to traverse the roads.
“There’s a school in that area and that would enhance the movement of those school children. Many days residents would complain to us [that] those children have to take their sneakers off to walk on the road because it’s flooded with water when it rains a lot, so this is our part to bring greater development and ease to the situation of the people on the ground,” Minister Dharamlall emphasised.
He further noted that these roads were placed on government’s agenda for rehabilitation following the pleas of residents. He noted that the signing of the contracts was the first step in fulfilling the promise made to the people of Wakenaam.