The Region Six Regional Democratic Council (RDC) has expressed concern over the rehabilitation work currently undertaken on the East Bank Berbice access road.The issue attracted a heated debate on Thursday when the RDC met. The $1.2 billion project is being undertaken by the Public Infrastructure Ministry, and should see a new road being constructed from Marks Bridge to Everton, covering 5.5 kilometres. Back in 2017, Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson had acknowledged that residents had been on the protest line since 2009, demanding the new road. He had said the project would no longer be funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) as had initially been announced, but by the Public Infrastructure Ministry (MPI) under the Special Projects Unit of that Ministry.Sixteen months after its launch, Region Six Councillors have expressed dissatisfaction with the project, and Regional Vice Chairman Dennis DeRoop is claiming that it is not the same project that had been stated by Minister Patterson back in 2017.“I can’t understand the logic of what is happening with this project. I am foreseeing that by the time we complete this project, we would spend twice as much as the IDB was going to spend on the road,” DeRoop related.Minister Patterson had said the MPI would save taxpayers $1 billion since the IDB was loaning the country $2.2 billion.DeRoop told the RDC he had believed that Government was trying to save money. Referring to the design which the IDB had approved and was funding under the PPP administration, DeRoop said it was an immaculate one.“It is a design that had heavy steel frames and concrete for the drains, and the light poles (were) made of steel. We are not seeing that. They have also reduced the width of the road from what the IDB design had. By the time they are finished, they would (have spent) twice as much as the IDB would have spent,” DeRoop posited.The East Bank Berbice Road currently supports two lanes of traffic from New Amsterdam to Mara. The road provides access to both the adjacent housing communities and the agriculture-based communities, and has several bridges and drainage structures which outfall into the Berbice River.Addressing the RDC meeting, Councillor Zamal Hussain opined that Government was not getting value for money expended, since a lot of man hours are being wasted.“Many of these workers are just (sheltering) sitting from the sun in people’s yards, and not much is going on. I want to believe that they are being paid in full, and for the entire day. We should ask for a commission of inquiry (CoI) into this project, so that we can put the Ministry of Public Infrastructure to the test, to ensure that the people of this Region are not short-changed in this particular project,” Hussain noted.Figures from the Public Infrastructure Ministry (MPI) indicate that the volume of traffic in New Amsterdam along Main Street is approximately 9,200 vehicles per day heading southward. This volume is reduced to 2,000 vehicles per day heading southward near Edinburgh; 850 vehicles per day in Brothers, and 200 vehicles per day in Light Town, further south.Regional Chairman David Armogan, weighing in on the debate, said the Government was forced to undertake the project after the IDB pulled out because the current administration did not want to deal with the contractor which the IDB had chosen.“When the IDB is giving you money, they supervise it almost every day. They supervise their money, so you can’t really misspend the money or spend it as you like. The IDB wanted to decide who the contractor is. That was based on a submission from a list of contractors; the IDB picked the best contractor for the job based on the submissions of those contractors, (but) the Government did not want that contractor, and then the IDB pulled out,” he explained.Back in 2015, this publication was told that the IDB had selected H Nauth and Sons Construction.Resident engineer Joel Tucker had said in September that some 1.9 kilometres of the base layer and the final layer of asphalt were slated for completion in Glasgow. Preparations are underway to begin the final layer of asphalt in the Edinburgh, Everton and Islington areas shortly.Construction of the culvert at Baptiste Turn, Edinburgh is finished, and another at Glasgow is approximately 90 per cent complete. The remaining structures to be done are the bridges at Gay Park, Providence and one recently added at Everton.This project has been slated for completion in three phases, but it is still unclear when it would finally be completed.
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