East Coast high­way clo­sure

-bus, taxi op­erat

Stabroek News Sunday - - REGIONAL NEWS -

It took three hours for some com­muters to travel from La Bonne In­ten­tion (LBI) to Plai­sance yes­ter­day af­ter­noon fol­low­ing the clo­sure of the East Coast High­way to fa­cil­i­tate the con­struc­tion of cul­verts and bridges as part of the road widen­ing and up­grade project.

The Min­istry of Pub­lic In­fra­struc­ture has said the road, which was closed at 8 am yes­ter­day, will not re­open un­til 11 pm to­day.

In light of the re­sult­ing con­ges­tion caused by the di­ver­sion of traf­fic along the rail­way em­bank­ment, minibus op­er­a­tors ei­ther stopped trav­el­ling to the city or made the trip at the in­flated price of $500. In some cases, taxi drivers moved their fare from $2,000 to $4,000, cit­ing the im­pact on their gas con­sump­tion due to the long wait.

De­spite the fact that the China Rail­way Group Com­pany has been con­tracted to im­prove the traf­fic man­age­ment along the East Coast road through a se­ries of up­grades, even be­fore yes­ter­day’s de­ba­cle, drivers and res­i­dents that fre­quently use the road have had cause to call for bet­ter man­age­ment prac­tices from the project man­agers to ease the con­ges­tion ex­pe­ri­enced dur­ing the peak hours.

Res­i­dents and drivers have cre­ated a furore on Face­book, ex­press­ing their con­cerns about the way traf­fic is be­ing man­aged along the high­way.

Ac­cord­ing to one driver, Amanda Ti­wari, the man­age­ment of the project has many is­sues which make it dif­fi­cult for traf­fic to flow prop­erly.

“The cur­rent state of the East Coast road is an in­dict­ment to road users and clearly il­lus­trates that no con­sid­er­a­tion is given to the lengthy de­lays ex­pe­ri­enced by road users daily. More im­por­tantly, this project is a ma­jor safety risk and will sooner or later re­sult in fa­tal­i­ties,” she said.

Ti­wari ex­plained that in some sec­tions, dur­ing the nights, vis­i­bil­ity is ex­tremely poor and drivers can hardly iden­tify the signs to show where the di­ver­sions start and end. She also pointed out that the signs that are placed are not re­flec­tive and that gain­ing ac­cess to premises for some is dif­fi­cult as “an en­tire com­mu­nity (An­nan­dale) was cut off be­cause of poorly planned con­struc­tion and to­tal dis­re­gard for emer­gen­cies”.

She pointed out that even though the rail­way em­bank­ment is left open to fa­cil­i­tate the brunt of the traf­fic, she noted that dur­ing peak time, the traf­fic is “bumper to bumper” and moves at a snail’s pace.

“I will say this, as a pro­fes­sional in the tech­ni­cal field, the way this project is un­fold­ing is a na­tional dis­grace and only high­lights our in­abil­ity to re­solve sim­ple is­sues by not de­mand­ing bet­ter from con­trac­tors… The func­tion­al­ity of the road is im­por­tant to en­sure that peo­ple get to school

A seem­ingly end­less line of traf­fic brack­eted the Rail­way Em­bank­ment all day yes­ter­day af­ter th closed to fa­cil­i­tate cul­vert and road works. (Photo by Ter­rence Thomp­son)

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