‘COMPLETE rehabilitation’ has commenced on the approximately 2,000 square metres of the Schoonord Access Road along the West Bank of the Demerara River, Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara). The contract for the project, valued at some $36.9 million, was awarded to Mohammed Fawaz Bacchus Construction and Transportation Incorporated.
The project commenced in early October, and is due for completion in early January 2022, but according to the engineer overseeing the project, efforts are being made to have the repairs completed before the end of 2021.
According to Minister within the Ministry of Public Works, Deodat Indar, the scope of work includes the resurfacing of large sections of the damaged road, as well as the pockets of potholes that exist along the entire stretch of the road.
The project also includes the clearing of the road’s ‘shoulder’ to allow for the efficient “run-off” of water from the carriageway. The shoulder of a road basically refers to an outer lane that runs alongside the traffic lanes of the road; it often serves to protect the edges of the structure from traffic, and can also be used as a lane for traffic in emergency cases.
As part of the project, contractors would also be responsible for the installation of centreline and edge-line road markings, as well as the clearing and shaping of the roadside drains.
For years, residents of La Parfaite Harmonie and Schoonord Housing Schemes have complained bitterly about the deplorable condition of the road, which is not only plagued with dangerous potholes, but adds to the maintenance expenses of vehicle owners.
The ever-expanding Schoonord/La Parfaite Harmonie Housing Scheme is home to thousands of Guyanese who rely heavily on the access road for their daily commute, especially in light of the usually heavy traffic that often plagues the western side of the Demerara Harbour Bridge (DHB).
Minister Indar has said that he is not oblivious to the challenges faced by approximately 6,000-7,000 motorists who rely on the road for their daily commute.
“The Schoonord Road; this was the subject of many newspaper articles…There are a number of main parts of the road where the subsurface has failed, and so we have to actually repair all of that,” the minister said during the contact signing for the road in September.
“This is a main irritant in the lives of commuters and commercial activity going out of the housing scheme… This particular community has complained about the road for a number of years now,” Minister Indar acknowledged.
In an effort to bring short-term relief to residents, the Public Works Ministry in February this year had executed some much-needed remedial works, in keeping with the ministry’s maintenance budget, but after a few months, the road regressed to its deplorable condition.
Since its commissioning in 2014, the 3.0km thoroughfare has had to undergo a series of rehabilitative works, owing to the fast-developing potholes. The structure, in its current form, is perhaps the worse it has ever been, with scores of commuters calling for urgent repairs.
To make matters worse, almost all of the street lights that were erected along the $600 million road were stolen. Over the last few months, the lack of lights, coupled with the potholes, have posed significant challenges to drivers; many have complained of the risks attached to traversing the road at nights. Minister Indar had previously said that the absence of lights on the highway was also being addressed.
In August 2019, a team of officials from the former A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) government had journeyed to the community, where it was announced that a $1.5B initiative would be rolled out to effect a number of much-needed repairs in the community. The works were supposed to have begun in January 2020; however, residents are still complaining of deplorable roads, as well as the absence of street lights in areas that are prone to criminal activity.