Minister Edghill consults St. Cuthbert’s residents on ongoing road project

Minister of Public Works Honourable Bishop Juan Edghill on Sunday, August 30, visited the residents of St. Cuthbert’s Mission on the Linden Soesdyke Highway to consult them on the ongoing $99 million road project.

Minister Edghill was accompanied by the Ministry’s Senior Engineer, Miscellaneous and Urban Roads, Ms. Denita Crandon, Project Engineer, Mr. Stephen Cheong and the contractor from J&R General Construction Services.

The Minister and his team received a warm welcome by the Toshao, Ms. Beverly Clenkian and residents who were equipped with their face masks and at all times, socially distanced during the meeting.

The contract was signed back in December 31, 2019, but works on the road began sometime last week and is currently progressing on the 14 miles of sand road. The project was delayed due to COVID-19 according to Ms. Crandon, who also noted that the road works should be completed by November 29, 2020. The road surface will be upgraded to compacted loam, which can later be resurfaced to bitumen.

Minister Edghill explained that it was brought to his attention that residents had concerns with the project once it kicked off, since no consultation was done by the previous administration.

“It was brought to my attention that once the works was started there were some objections, especially in the main entrance coming off of the Highway where the widening is to take place…it will interfere with some of the trees and destroy the canopy. I spoke to the contractor on arrival and I was told that he was approached and asked to cease work interfering with the trees and the rest of it,” the Honourable Minister explained.

A resident of St. Cuthbert’s Mission who has been recently appointed as the Minister’s Advisor on Aviation, Mr. Lennox Shuman highlighted during brief remarks that no consultation with the residents was done, while noting that no residents were employed on the project.

Meanwhile, the Minister engaged the residents on various views and issues in a frank and open manner.

In the end, residents said that the canopy was dangerous and in fact, serves as a hub for thieves. Against this backdrop, it was agreed that the structure should be demolished for the construction of the road and the safety of the residents.

One resident, Verona Persaud said, she would like if the loam road can stop before it enters the village as the loam and dust can be dangerous, especially within the Health Center district. She also noted that she feels when the road is completed, drivers will be reckless, thereby, affecting the indigenous children who are accustomed to playing around the village.

To this concern, the contractor assured the residents that speed bumps will be erected to ensure safety. On the other hand, Minister Edghill stressed the importance of the loam road coming into the village. According to him, development comes in stages and a compacted loam road will pave the way for a bitumen road in the future.

On the issue of no residents being employed on the project, the contractor said, works will be executed via machines and less manpower will be required.

Minister Edghill nonetheless urged the contractor to remain in consultation with the residents and wherever possible, employ residents as part of the project.

Mr. Vincent Harry was very excited to see development taking place in his community and told the Minister, “Let the road proceed as designed.” This statement was welcomed with resounding applause from the scores of residents that were present.

Minister Edghill took the opportunity to inform the community of the Government’s developmental agenda and current preparation of the Emergency Budget 2020. He thanked the residents for their good wishes, prayers and words of encouragement.