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…says consultations held with Indigenous communitiesThe final report on the Linden-Lethem road, which will contain details coming out of consultations with the Indigenous communities and other important matters, is being finalised, even as construction is expected to start next month.The deplorable condition of the roadDuring a recent interview with the media, Finance Minister Winston Jordan revealed that he recently received a progress report on the project. He noted that experts from the United Kingdom and the Caribbean Infrastructure Partnership Fund (CIF) were here last week.“The UK, CIF people were here last week. And they were giving us a progress report on the grant funding they’re supposed to make available for a part of the road and the bridge across the Essequibo River at Kurupukari”.The Caribbean Development Bank is the implementing agency for UKCIF programme, which was launched with £300 million. As such, Jordan reminded of the role the Caribbean Development Bank is playing in the process.Jordan also referenced the recent announcement from Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson that the project would start on October 1, although he was unsure exactly what form that start would take.“As you know, they have been holding consultations with Indigenous communities and so on. What they did was, together with the Caribbean Development Bank, give me a progress report on how far they’re at, some of the challenges and some of the concerns. The consultants are working on finalising the report and after that is the tender stage and so on”.“I know some monies are in the budget. So the start is from mile zero. I don’t know if it’s clearing, surveying or what. But start could mean anything, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll see graders. There’s money in the budget to start the project though,” he added.Patterson had announced last week during a public engagement that the project would get off the ground on October 1. Phase One of the project covers approximately 125 kilometres of the road and also includes a bridge across the Kurupukari Crossing.State of the roadFor some time, drivers utilising the Linden-Lethem Road have been calling on the Public Infrastructure Ministry and the other relevant authorities to quickly rehabilitate a section of the roadway from Mabura Police Station to Kurupukari Crossing, since it is rapidly deteriorating.The drivers have said that the road is almost impassable, resulting in them taking double the amount of time to traverse the area as well as costing them more money in repairs and maintenance of their vehicles. They have noted that several complaints have been made to the Public Infrastructure Ministry but with very little results.Additionally, several persons using the roadway as transportation from Lethem to either Georgetown or Linden for various Government services or even medical treatment have registered their dissatisfaction with the condition of the road.The residents, particularly those of remote Amerindian communities in the Rupununi, would have to use the road as their only means of transportation to travel to the city for medical treatment that is not available within the region, since it is too costly for them to take a flight out.Over the last two years, with the increased use of social media and access to the internet, the road users have taken to various social media platforms to post videos and photos to highlight the struggles of accessing one of Guyana’s newest township.They have been calling on the authorities to have the issues addressed and the road upgraded but to date, there has been very little action in that regard.Last year, Government said that the Linden-Lethem road may be realised under the Belt and Road initiative with the Chinese Government. In late July 2018, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) within the framework of China’s Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road was signed between the Governments of Guyana and China.
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