Tony Vieira's Comments
18 October 2017

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East Bank Road
(Aired 17 February 2004)

     For nearly 10 years the East Bank road has been a source of frustration for anyone who has to use it, my poor children have to get up at 6 AM to get to school by 8.30 AM and they still generally get there late, Guyanese of all races have to sit in vehicles for hours waiting to traverse the 4 miles from the Demerara Harbour Bridge to Georgetown. In this country of shortage of skilled staff, thousands of skilled people have wasted millions of man-hours on that 2 mile stretch of road since 1993. This Government as if to reinforce my perception that the lot of the common man means nothing to them, despite their rhetoric of being a  government of the people, personified their incompetence and their complete contempt for us, in the way this road has been handled since 1992.   

   Let's start at the beginning.

   Shortly after coming to power Minister of Works Nocta, that paragon of competence, re-surfaced the East Bank road, but he did not resurface the entire width of the road which was around 35 ft. wide, he laid down a 22 ft. wide strip in the middle of the road thereby effectively narrowing it to 22 feet from the Demerara Harbour Bridge to Ruimveldt, this was the first of numerous blunders and started the congestion on the road almost immediately. If one looks carefully at the sides of that road one can easily see how wide the road was originally, since traces of the bitumen surface of the old road surface can still be seen 6-8 ft wide on both sides of it.

   In 1994-1996 amidst much fanfare the Government and the IDB told us that they will begin the construction of a 4 lane road including the necessary bridges from the Demerara Harbour Bridge to Ruimveldt on the East Bank road. This required the construction of 5 new 4 lane bridges between the Harbour Bridge and Ruimveldt, these bridges were not built sequentially as any sane person would do given the 40,000 vehicles, established by actual count by the Ministry of Works which travels in each direction on this road every week day.

    They built all four bridges at the same time. These widened bridges which were done during 1994-1996 in such a rush, caused unspeakable inconvenience to the people in the 40,000 Vehicles travelling the road in each direction daily, but for nearly nine years they have been sitting there handling the same two lane traffic.

   So any reasonable person could legitimately ask what was the rush to build these four lane bridges all at the same time, which caused such unspeakable inconvenience to thousands of commuters for nearly two years, when they would not be used for nearly nine years.

   But as I have been telling you all along the PPP are learning to govern and to plan; and someone should find out where the Cabinet holds their meetings and paint a huge red L on the building, since they are still learning to govern us: it is a reasonable request ladies and gentlemen since in this country if you are learning to drive a car you are required by law to put a red L on the vehicle you are driving to alert everyone that you don't know what the hell you are doing.

   Last year this government commenced the construction of four new culverts between Providence and Friendship, this simultaneous construction of 4 culverts has increased the problem of congestion on the East Bank road exponentially. Why did they have to be built simultaneously? Causing such enormous inconvenience to the public? Why can they not be built sequentially? One at a time? And why not continuous work during the night?

   To compound the problem the recent widening of the side road between Houston and Mandela Avenue has begun, further affecting the flow of traffic between the Harbour Bridge and Georgetown.

   All of this has to do with poor management and poor coordination, there are several projects running simultaneously 1. The rehabilitation of the road from Rosignol to Mahaica by Dipcon 2. The Four Lane Road project, from the Harbour Bridge to Georgetown being done by some Trinidadian company and 3. DYWIDAG of Germany is contracted to build 28 bridges and 35 culverts between Onverwagt and Madiwini so there are three operations going on simultaneously, but our Government's Ministry of Works is sitting on its hands and letting its citizens be inconvenienced by these works without having regard to the effect on their lives. Which person will go to work after that frustrating two hour drive from Providence to Georgetown or from the West Bank to Georgetown in a good mood ready to perform his/her duties with efficiency? These people arrive at their jobs frustrated and ready to go home for another two hour drive to traverse those 4 miles of road. The bad news is that another 14 bridges will still have to be built on the East Bank road between Madiwini and Diamond in the near future.

       Now all of this should have been closely monitored by someone in what we call a government, to ensure that one or two Guyanese sub contractors are not allowed to make huge profits constructing the poor alternative traffic arrangements at the sites of construction which is causing such inconvenience of all of the people who use this road daily, 40,000 vehicles mostly minibuses means over 150,000 people. Additionally because of the delay in the traffic situation at each construction site the projects take weeks if not months longer than the planned period. Causing us even more inconvenience.

    Now we come to the real problem, when I was a little boy I was told the story of a group of rats who had met to determine what to do about a certain cat which was wreaking havoc among their ranks, now you have all heard that story, my question is this; I want to know which rat is going to get all of the people living in Agricola and Macdoom to move their fences, their bridges, their gardens and even part of their houses to allow enough space for this 4 lane road to pass through this particular bottle neck on the East Bank road, there is no doubt that this is the biggest bottle neck in the entire East Bank four lane road project, and it must be done, ladies and gentlemen, of that there is no question, but who has been doing the public relations work and the negotiations with these people for compensation etc to complete this 4 lane highway on their property? Or will we have to tolerate another 9 years of congestion for it to be done.