By: Andrew Carmichael
The upgraded road network between Linden in Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) and Lethem in Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) is beginning to take shape.
The Linden-Lethem Road is being upgraded to an all-weather road, with the contractor being required to produce an asphaltic surface capable of withstanding the heavily laden lorries which currently use the thoroughfare.
Some $3.19 billion has been allocated to the 32 bridges between Kurupukari and Lethem and US$190 million for the Linden to Mabura Road project. The first phase of the project will see a two-lane highway being constructed from sand and dirt to an asphaltic concrete surface. The road will be approximately 121 kilometres long and 7.2 metres wide. The project is expected to last for three years.
With tangible works taking place, residents have started focusing on the new possibilities for business opportunities.
Only on Saturday, Tourism, Industry and Commerce Minister Oneidge Walrond while declaring open the Rupununi Expo, pointed out that the Government is seeking funds to upgrade the Mabura to Lethem section.
“We have secured over US$100 million from the section from Linden to Mabura Hill which is currently under construction and we are currently actively seeking funding for the Mabura to Lethem segment. When completed, the road will be a transformation catalyst for industry and commerce between Region Nine and the coast and indeed the wider world. We have also committed to the paving of all roads in the township of Lethem,” she explained.
Traversing sections of the Linden to Lethem Road has been a nightmare for heavily laden lorries, with many toppling off of the roadway. The bridges are even worse. Some vehicle operators would have to align the boards before attempting to cross. They do not always make it over safely.
With massive work currently taking place on upgrading all the bridges between the Kurupukari River and Lethem to concrete bridges, residents say they are now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
Proprietor of Pakaraima Mountain Inn, Charles Defreitas said for the first time he is seeing the realisation of a promise he has been hearing about for more than half a century.
“It’s improving, where you use to sink one foot, you are only sinking six inches now… now you don’t sink at all because it is passable. The dream of the Georgetown-Lethem Road is finally here with us; any bus driver can tell you that right now and to go down the road where the bridges were once wood, you can see concrete bridges being erected there; it is a joy to watch the development in our country in this point in time,” Defreitas, who lives and operates a business at Aranaputa, which is situated 65 miles off of Lethem, said.