LETTER: Not in support of overhead pedestrian crossings

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Dear Editor,

Although no meaningful consultations were conducted within the Neighbourhood Democratic Council, the construction of three overhead pedestrian crossings at three locations along the East Bank Demerara Corridor has commenced. The contract, for US$1,034,326 (GY$2,111,990,239), has been awarded to B&J Civil Works for the construction of the crossings at Houston, Eccles and Peter’s Hall.

It is quite disappointing that, with farcical consultations and at a cost of approximately G$70.4 million each, the APNU/AFC Coalition Government decided that these over-passes for pedestrians will significantly reduce accidents, save on travel time for those travelling from Diamond, and enable a freer flow of traffic.

We support the view of many that the decision is judgmentally unsound. In fact, numerous residents and other commuters passing through this area now question whether the tremendous cost for the construction could ever be justified. We believe not!!

The disappointment comes with the fact that initial pronouncements by the Government led residents to believe that the overpasses to be constructed at these tremendous costs would have had the capacity to allow overhead vehicular passing to facilitate the merging of traffic lanes from the new high populated areas, with the main continuous flow below.

It is now known that the commuters would have to climb to cross over, or use the elevator lifts that are touted to be a part of these new overpass facilities. It follows that the Government must also make weather protective accommodations; guarantee reliable power supply, and ensure reliable police protection, since the vicinity of these structures to the renowned Agricola & Bagotstown will now realise the bringing of on-foot commuters to the slaughter houses.

Many citizens are of the very strong opinion that the hard-earned tax payers’ money can be better spent on fixing the streets and roads in the communities. It is noteworthy that the deliberate weakening of many of the NDCs functionality through the non implementation of the Local Government Commission is now having spiraling effects in many communities.

In Eccles/Ramsburg Local Government area, roads and streets are littered with very big pot-holes while the council is complaining about the length of time for approval of fixing project by the RDC and the Ministry. At the same time, residents are complaining bitterly about the cost of fixing and repairing their vehicles, while the taxis are not willing to go in some areas; and if they do, they tend to charge a higher fare.

People are also questioning the stupidity to build one by-pass at Peters Hall, which is next to the present Demerara Harbour Bridge, while another is being constructed at Eccles, less than a mile away. Further, the communities are questioning the judgment of the Government to build a by-pass at the particular area where they have commenced by driving piles. Further, the proposal to build another by-pass at Providence, again less than one mile away from the one at Peters Hall, is another way of wasting money.

In Parliament, the Opposition has raised many questions on the operation of these by-pass and it is clear that pedestrians would be at the mercy of the bandits, and blackout periods would be ‘lotto’– free for all. The construction of all these pedestrian over-passes was just not done properly; they were not thought out, and for sure, people will be correct to resist the Government’s decision in this respect.

The situation in reality is that citizens would not walk to these overpasses if they are positioned out of reach (perhaps more than 30 metres) from one’s access. Mini-buses and taxis will still stop to pick up passengers, and these monuments will be more obstacles than solutions. Many have opined that Government should have instead built roundabouts and vehicle over-passes. It is rational to believe the latter will certainly expedite the heavy vehicular traffic, particularly at peak time in the mornings and the evenings.

The traffic congestion on the East Bank of Demerara when the Harbour Bridge retracts and in the early morning and the evening is a nightmare for the commuters. On the other hand, the potholes and impassable roads are also a tremendous burden on our people. A solution that must be expedited is the construction of roads connecting the East Coast and the East Bank, which was being advanced during the PPP/C Administration.

It is known that in the 2017 budget, G$400,000,000 was the voted provision for the road projects, and the APNU/AFC, with no work to show, came to the Parliament and bullied their way to get a further $57,077,500. More tax-payers’ money for the same road work that is still to commence!!

It is notable that many residents refused to attend their stake-holders meetings because they do not have any confidence in APNU/AFC Ministers. The people are confident that these pedestrian over-passes will all be failures. We demand the Local Government Commission now!!!

Neil Kumar

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