Bus operators call for suspension of heavy-duty vehicles during rainy season
Linden-Lethem trailThe condition of the Linden-Lethem trail has worsened over the past weeks as a result of the consistent rainfall and as such, bus and other small vehicle operators are calling on the relevant authorities to suspend heavy-duty vehicles from traversing the trail until the rainy season is over.Guyana Times understands that since the May-June rainy season began, the already deplorable Linden-Lethem trail is becoming almost impassable, posing risks to commuters. In fact, it was pointed out that almost daily, vehicles are overturning along the trail, with the most recent incident being on Wednesday.One bus operator, Terry Ramjohn, told Guyana Times that he barely managed to make it up to Lethem on Wednesday. According to him, over the past two weeks, the condition of sections of the trail has worsened.This passenger bus got stuck while climbing one of the hills along the Lethem trail“It is drivable but there are certain areas especially in the Iwokrama Road, where there is a truck there pulling you up the hill because you cannot drive up as normal so you have to be towed up the hill,” he noted.Ramjohn further highlighted that there are two damaged bridges between Mabura and the Kurupukari Crossing and if the rain continues at this pace, the road will be eventually be closed off.“I barely passed to come in (Lethem). It’s dangerous for motorists and what they are doing there is putting their lives at stake because if they fall into that creek there, they gonna die. One truck driver was hurt last week and those bridges haven’t been looked at. There is also a ‘wash-away’ in the Iwokrama Road and eventually in a matter of days, if the rain continues, you wont be able to pass,” the bus operator stated.To this end, Ramjohn is calling on the relevant authorities to suspend all lorries, including lumber trucks, overloaded trucks carrying goods into Lethem and other heavy-duty vehicles from using the trail until the rainy season is over since they contribute to the destruction of the roadway, thus making it almost impassable for smaller vehicles to traverse.“We are suggesting as small operators for the suspension of especially the log trucks or the trucks moving timber the interior, to suspend them until the rainy season stops. Because they are the ones that are destroying the bridges with the weights they are carrying. The bridges were not designed for those weights. Otherwise the whole road is gonna be locked off when the bridges are destroyed and then nothing would be able to pass,” Ramjohn pointed out.The bus operator further explained that since the trail has gotten worse, maintenance cost for vehicles have gone up. “All has gone double or triple, for the buses especially – the smaller vehicles which aren’t designed to go off-road – that usually bring in passengers. The driving time too now has doubled, it now takes about 24 hours to get to Lethem from Georgetown when it usually takes about 11 to 12 hours,” he stated.Only last week, commuters had complained bitterly about the condition of the roads, calling on Government to intervene and repair the sections that are almost impassable. This stemmed from a truck toppling into a nearby creek on Saturday. The driver, Vicky Indardeo, was attempting to manoeuvre lorry GWW 5832, carrying a load of sawn lumber, when it went overboard while crossing Christmas Bridge. Luckily, Indardeo only sustained injuries in the mishap.At last week’s post-Cabinet press briefing, Minister of State Joseph Harmon had assured that works to upgrade the Linden-Lethem road are ongoing.He said, “The road itself, that is, the Linden Highway, is a work in progress. I can say that because some work has already started in Lethem. You would recognise that some of the culvert’s work has already started.”Back in February 2017, the Public Infrastructure Ministry had said it was gearing to commence construction of the first phase of the Linden-Lethem Road project, which will be funded through the United Kingdom Government under its UK Caribbean Infrastructure Partnership Fund (UKCIF) programme.In September 2015, former UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced a £300 million investment in vital new infrastructure, such as roads, bridges and ports, to help drive economic growth and development across the Caribbean region. Guyana was named among nine Caribbean states to benefit from the grant.The first phase of the project spans from Linden to Mabura, and covers approximately 122.5 kilometres of road and the construction of the bridge across the Essequibo River at Kurupukari.Meanwhile, the remaining 331.5km of the laterite road will fall under other phases and will be undertaken through funding from other sources. Guyana is collaborating with the Brazil Government to complete this section of the trail and considering taking financial assistance from the Chinese. Government is also considering funding from the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB).