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Mahdia residents protest deplorable roads; govt says strong roads will be costly

Residents of Mahdia blocking the airstrip road

Residents in Mahdia on Monday marched and blocked a main road to protest the poor condition of the roads and unsatisfactory potable water supply.

However, a senior Public Works Ministry official says it only has GUY$30 million in the kitty and that money cannot build a strong asphalt road that will withstand heavy duty vehicles. Instead, and official said that money can barely fund laterite roads that are also weak and cannot stand up to rainy weather.

A Public Works Ministry official plans to visit Mahdia to conduct an assessment before deciding how the GUY$30 million would be spent on laterite work in sections totaling three miles.

If authorities were to build strong long-lasting asphalt roads in Mahdia, the official said it would cost at least GUY$120 million per mile of road. There are about six miles of internal roads in that mining township.

Public Works Minister, Robeson Benn recalled that several years ago, an asphalt road failed shortly after it was constructed. “Some years ago, we had actually gone and asphalted the road…That road perished because of too much weight on the road,” Benn told Demerara Waves Online News.

Tired that none of the money earned from gold being produced in Region 8 is being reinvested in improving roads and water, an estimated 100 residents marched to the Regional Administration headquarters.

They then set up barriers on the airstrip road, preventing the movement of vehicles along that main artery through the gold mining township. “They said that they are not going to move until their demands are met,” Region Eight Chairman, Mark Crawford told Demerara Waves Online News.

He said gold miners have decided to stop selling the precious yellow metal to the Guyana Gold Board to protest the failure of government to fix the roads and potable water system.

He said the inner Mahdia roads have not been repaired for more than one year now and he had requested GUY$40 million in the 2014 National Budget for roads but none was allocated by the Ministry of Finance. “The roads are in a deplorable state. This is the worst it ever was and there is no help from the Regional Administration,” said Crawford.

Crawford accused central government of discriminating against the Potaro-Siparuni administrative region because it is being controlled by the Alliance For Change (AFC). Concerned residents carried placards that read “We need better roads, water and 24 hour electricity,” “We need better education and road and better health,”  and “No water, no gold to Gold Board.”