The complaints from truckers about the deplorable state of interior roads preceded Government’s declaration that weight limits would be imposed on vehicles traversing the interior.
The announcement is being greeted by worry that the additional cost would be passed onto customers.
Speaking specifically about the situation in Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo), Opposition Member of Parliament, Alister Charlie acknowledged that the roads were in a sorry state and trucks were one contributory factor.
“We’re looking at the roads specifically,” he said adding that “Lethem is a beautiful place, but minus the roads. Our roads at this time are in a deplorable state. Trucks traversing along the roads in hinterland regions is one contributing factor to the deterioration of the roads.”
But noting Public Infrastructure Minister, David Patterson’s recent utterances that a weight limit will be imposed on all trucks traversing these roads, Charlie expressed worry that the measure would hamper the delivery of goods and services to those in need.
“Because we will see the escalation of prices, prices start to rise and everything goes with it. When we were in Government, we did road maintenance across this Region, inclusive of the Lethem-Linden roads. We did road maintenance two times annually – one before the rainy season and one after.”
“We did not wait until the road was in such a deplorable state and then we go to fix it. The Minister (had) alluded that in August some road work would be done, but at this time it would not be feasible. So, we are facing a problem that might take us to year-end.”
Declaring that overweight trucks were chiefly responsible for wreaking havoc on interior roads in Guyana, Government had announced that moves would be made to amend the relevant laws in order to enforce weight limits on the roadways.
In fact, the legislative instrument to enable the change in the law is currently with the Chambers of the Attorney General for vetting. Three heavy-duty scales have already been procured, and Government will be moving to have them installed at key locations shortly.
Of the $2.3 billion allocated to the Public Infrastructure Ministry for use on hinterland roads, some 82 per cent of those funds has been committed to contracts, with 43 per cent of the money committed to contracts having already been disbursed to contractors.
Patterson, who made his announcement at the beginning of the 67th Sitting of the National Assembly, was responding to People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Member of Parliament Juan Edghill, who queried what measures were being put in place to address the plight of truckers moving goods and providing services to interior locations using roads such as the Linden-Lethem road link.
In presenting an update to members of the National Assembly, Patterson elucidated the damage done by overweight trucks traversing the interior roads, and pointed out that the pontoon at the Puruni crossing in Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) was only recently damaged by a truck.
He explained that the limit for drums on a truck is 50, but that truck that damaged the pontoon at the time was carrying 130 drums of diesel.