RESIDENTS of Onderneeming who had recently staged a protest for better roads breathed a sigh of relief on Sunday afternoon when Minister of Public Works Bishop Juan Edghill told them that they will be the beneficiaries of a $100M road project.
Minister Edghill made it clear to those who were gathered at Rooster’s Place, that his announcement was not as a result of the protest but was part of the road programme for the Region Two community.
The protest action began on Thursday last. Residents blocked the bridge on the main access road with pieces of wood and other debris to prevent the free flow of traffic to and from the community. Healthcare workers were denied access to their work site and some of them were reportedly threatened by the protesters.
The blockage was cleared the following afternoon. However, residents have placed a wooden barrier at the top of the bridge to prevent sand trucks from passing.
The minister told the residents that to address the issues of “bad road”, engineers will revisit the area on Monday and rehabilitation works will commence when his ministry awards the contract.
According to the minister, the regional administration will be tasked with overlooking and monitoring the maintenance process.
Meanwhile, he used the opportunity to urge the residents to cooperate with the truck drivers and to avoid any further misunderstanding. Truck drivers were also reminded of their responsibilities of maintaining the road once they have access to private sand/loam pits in the area.
Minister Edghill said his ministry is spending millions of dollars on roads along the Essequibo Coast and he therefore urged residents to remove the wooden barrier to allow truck drivers to continue their work.
He also called on residents to report any issues affecting them to the regional officials.
Regional officials had met with the aggrieved residents on Saturday and listened to their concerns. They, however, indicated their preference to meet with Minister Edghill as they were not confident that the region was in a position to address their plight.
Residents were very satisfied after the meeting with the minister. One such resident was Kevin Lowe, who said that he was happy to be informed that the road will be finally fixed. Lowe said it is something residents have been pleading for, for many years.
During the protest, many of protestors claimed that they made several requests to the relevant authorities for the road to be repaired, but their concerns were never addressed.
They had also explained that heavy-duty trucks were entering the community to take sand from the sandpits and were damaging the road.
The area is home to over 2,000 persons and has several sandpits.