The Constitution, the Government, and the Judiciary are the arms of Government that safeguard Guyana’s democracy but physical infrastructure is equally important in a state’s development. In fact, modern public infrastructure leads to developments in other sectors. Modern road networks, bridges and highways, for example, allow more commuters to access employment, health, education and other services which can drive development.
The Government of Guyana through the Ministry of Public Infrastructure continues to make strides to ensure all Guyanese can live the ‘good life’ while utilising advanced and climate resilient infrastructure.
Prioritising safety and convenience
The pedestrian overpasses located along the East Bank Demerara public road represent one of the most significant and fully functional public infrastructure projects that the Government has completed to date. The five structures, which cost about $500 million are equipped with both a ramp and lift to aid pedestrians of all ages and abilities to cross the road safely.
We asked a few rush-hour commuters and pedestrians about their experiences using the elevated walkways.
Mr. Imran (only name given) a commuter who resides in Wales, West Bank Demerara said: I find it very useful because [in] afternoon traffic, you can’t really stop traffic [to let] people cross… I [drive] trucks and I know how dangerous that [can] be because the police put up their hand and expect you to stop [in time], but with [the overpass], you can save lives.
Ms. Davika Persaud, commuter: The overpass is very great [for] me. It’s convenient for me in the afternoon… because… [on] the other end [of the street] you have to wait like ten minutes if you want to cross… So, the overpass is convenient and the exercise is great for me. I enjoy it.
Ms. Odessa Mitchell, commuter: I’m living on the East Bank [Demerara] and most of [the] time, I’ll use it because of safety. [It hasn’t] been too long for me. I’m enjoying it. It’s… not only [safe], but it’s a bit of exercise… It’s very [safe] because, for instance, we have too many accidents… occurring on the road and it’s indeed, [providing] safety for children who will be going to school… during the week.
Mr. Clayon McFord, commuter: The overpass is very [useful]… It allows you to traverse from one side of the road to the other and it’s most useful because it prevents you from interfering with any traffic that can cause an accident. You could harm yourself or a driver.
Mr. Aftab Rahaman, Commuter: [I use the overpass] everyday actually on my way back home, and I find it very useful because it’s a lot safer than walking amongst the traffic… Most people might not be swift enough to walk through the traffic in time and it’s very risky so it reduces a lot of the risk and [increases] safety.
The commuters encouraged all pedestrians to utilise the overpasses because they see safety as a major benefit.
Ms. Mitchell: I would encourage them to use it because it’s going to be for their good and for their safety… At times, despite the traffic light would be [displaying the] stop [signal]… the drivers tend to still [run] the traffic light instead of waiting on the light and … I think we should really use the walkway as men, women, and children. It is for our good and our protection.
Ms. Persaud: It’s safe… No complaints about that… They’re trying to target everybody.
They are targeting everybody and it’s very convenient for people. [Persons with disabilities], kids, everybody can enjoy it… I know some people don’t want to climb the stairs. They want to avoid the stairs, but it’s not safe, [the jaywalking]. I think it’s better for you to use the overhead crossing and be safe than sorry.
Mr. McFord: For the persons who do not use the overpass, it is dangerous because it [can] cause accidents while [you] traverse from one side of the road to the other.
Pride in Infrastructure
The Ministry of Public Infrastructure, under the leadership of Minister David Patterson boasts the completion of a staggering number of infrastructural projects across all Ten Administrative Regions of Guyana. With the completion of every infrastructural project, the Ministry would like to see Guyanese become increasingly proud of the pace of their infrastructural development, he said.
“The Ministry of Public Infrastructure is a really wide and diverse ministry. We are tasked to look after our aviation sector, our road transportation sector, our maritime sector, and our energy sector. So, we have a wide and diverse team. There [are] about 14 or 15 different semi-autonomous agencies under the Ministry… Then, of course, we have the Ministry administrative section… So… with that framework we’re of course tasked with the enviable task with bringing out infrastructure, all of the entire gambit of infrastructure, up to a level which we, as Guyanese, would be proud of,” Minister Patterson said.
Minister Patterson admonished the belief that Guyanese aren’t ready for vast infrastructural development.
“We’ve done in the last four years, I think, probably the most amount of roads in a four-year period, this Ministry would have done. We’ve done new things… We’ve sat as a team and decided that the mantra that used to exist where ‘Guyana isn’t ready for this’… The roundabout is one of [those projects]. I will always remember people always said that we’re not ready for a roundabout because they expected carnage, but we’ve said Guyanese are ready for anything. Most Guyanese travel, most Guyanese… are law-abiding persons once you enforce the rules and it’s about time we start getting ready,” he said.
The Public Infrastructure Minister strongly believes that Guyana can become one of South America’s leading countries.
“There’s no reason why Guyana should not be one of the outstanding, brightest, shiniest lights in South America and the only reason stopping us is… us, our ability to dream and tell ourselves that, yes, as… Guyanese… we deserve [betterment],” he said.
Minister Patterson said the amount of money invested in enhancing infrastructural development, particularly road works, in any region is worthwhile as it improves the standard of living of every citizen.
“Even if there’s one resident in the road, they deserve to have street lights. They’re a contributing member [of] our society. They pay their taxes. They pay their VAT and they have all worked to make this a beautiful country. So, we’ve abandoned that principle whereby you must have [a certain number of persons]… we have said that everyone deserves it, so we systematically, all the way from Mahaica, all the way to Rosignol with street lights for every village,” he said.
The Government of Guyana through the Ministry of Public Infrastructure continues to work assiduously to ensure that Guyanese across the country can access and utilise modern facilities as the country transitions into a ‘green’ state.