$85M contract signed to fix deplorable Lethem to Annai road

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JR Ranch Inc. was on Tuesday awarded an $85 million contract to carry out much-needed upgrades to the 160-kilometre stretch Lethem to Annai road in North Rupununi, Region Nine.

JR’s Directors, Julio and Steph Pereira signed the contract at the Ministry of Public Work’s Boardroom.

Minister within the Ministry of Public Works, Deodat Indar explained that though the trail was in a deplorable state, the May/ June rains and subsequent flooding only worsened the situation. He explained that the previous maintenance contract was a “grade and shape” arrangement but this was not feasible hence a new contract was put to tender.

“After you grade and you shape, there is nothing to grade anymore and it was not sustainable to maintain that stretch of road,” he explained.

With the new contract, the Works Minister said 39,000-metre cubes of laterite [a soil and a rock type rich in iron and aluminium] will be used to rebuild the subsurface.

Minister Indar said too that residents who frequent the route recently met with a team led by President Irfaan Ali to air their concerns regarding infrastructure projects in the area.

As such, it was decided that a committee led by the Regional Executive Officer of Region Nine, Carl Singh along with a representative of the Public Works Ministry, a representative from the Mayor’s office in Lethem and one from the Rupununi Chamber of Commerce and Industry would monitor the project until its completion.

“That four-man team will monitor works that are going on, to ensure that if there is 39,000 metric cube of laterite supposed to be placed, that it is actually placed.

“It is not circumventing the work of the regional engineer but is an added layer of eyes on the ground,” he added.

Meanwhile, Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat who was also at the contract signing, stated that the rehabilitation of the road will further boost economic activity in the area.

“This particular stretch has a significant impact on the logging and mining sector and I am particularly pleased that we are at this juncture because the heavy rains and the floods that we had, took a heavy toll on those sectors and we are trying to rebuild,” he commented.

Both ministers requested that the contractor utilise “local labour” as it carries works on the project. The contract commences immediately and has a nine-month duration.

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