Expansion works ongoing along the East Coast of Demerara Public Road are progressing well, according to Head of the Works Services Group (WSG) of the Public Infrastructure Ministry, Geoffrey Vaughn.In recent interview with Guyana Times, Vaughn explained that the ongoing works are approximately 20 to 21 per cent completed to date. He noted that currently, focus is being placed on the expansion between Better Hope and Beterverwagting (BV).“The contractors are working on the expansion half of the road, as you would realise, on both sides and we’re already started putting our sub-grades and our base materials; soon you will see paving commence in terms of those works,” he stated.Construction workers at Mon Repos on SaturdayThe WSG head noted too that works are also ongoing on the drainage system, with the drains being expanded to ensure that the elevations are correct so that the roads can be drained properly and there would not be ‘ponds of water’ when the construction works are completed.Meanwhile, Vaughn went on to say that while efforts are concentrated between Better Hope and BV, works have commenced in communities such as Mon Repos and will be moving down further the East Coast.“So, as much as there’s focus on BV and Better Hope, they’ve already commenced some preliminary works on the other areas in terms of grubbing and so forth,” he said.According to the WSG head, while the sand-filling aspect of the project was completed some over three years ago, some of it would have been contaminated over time when it was left there.“So (the contractors) would have to take off some of those sandfill and refill it, which is always necessary once you have a project of that nature, because you couldn’t leave the area open once you’ve started the expansion,” he noted.The East Coast Road expansion project, which commenced late last year, has a timeline of two years.Guyana has received a US$45.3 million concessional loan from the China EXIM (Export-Import) Bank to finance the road project and that agreement was signed in January last year.Initially, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government had tried to secure financing for the road expansion project, but the money was not readily available; hence, the Administration decided to use local funds for preliminary works while it awaited the release of funds from the Chinese to complete the works.The East Coast Road Expansion Project entails a four-lane extension from Better Hope to Annandale and two-lane upgrade from Annandale to Belfield with a total length of 16,998 kilometres of roads and 33,996 kilometres of drains to be built.Apart from the road expansion, the residents were also going to benefit from the project which included improved drainage since the East Coast is usually susceptible to floods.The preliminary works for the four-lane upgrade were completed at the end of 2014. This included the widening of the roads and installation of drainage facilities. The project was divided into seven lots which were awarded to different contractors.With the China Eximbank putting up most of the finances for the road expansion, Guyana had awarded the contract to China Railway First Group for some US$42.7 million. The Chinese construction company reportedly put in the lowest bid of US$46.994 million. The PPP/C Administration had stated that it is saving some $2.8 billion by giving the contract to China Railway First Group. Upon completing the widening and improvement of the East Coast Demerara Highway, citizens travelling along the East Coast will benefit from reduced travel time and less traffic congestion.
Despite news that D.C. Council member Brandon Todd (D-Ward 4) is embroiled in a controversy over unsubstantiated donations and missing information, some Ward 4 residents seem willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.Brandon Todd is facing accusations of campaign inconsistencies in his 2015 council bid reporting. (Courtesy photo)On April 7, the Washington Post reported that Todd’s 2015 special election campaign was unable to document $100,000 in contributions and failed to report $34,000 to the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance. On April 16, the newspaper reported that there is missing information for 136 contributors that gave $18,000.“I take very seriously any audit conducted by the Office of Campaign Finance,” Todd told the AFRO on April 17. “My campaign team is working diligently to address all of the issues of the audit. We are confident that this matter will be resolved soon after all of the documents are in.”On April 28, 2015, Todd won a special election to serve out the remainder of Muriel Bowser’s term as the Ward 4 representative. Bowser stepped down from her council seat when she was elected District mayor in 2014.Bowser endorsed and supported Todd, who served as director of constituent services for Bowser when she was on the council and served as the finance chair for her mayoral bid.In addition, he was elected a delegate to the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte and in 2013 he was elected as the chairman of the Ward 4 Democrats. Todd was elected to a full term on the council in November 2016. He is the chairman of the Committee on Government Operations.“I am a strong Brandon Todd supporter,” Marlena Edwards, a longtime Ward 4 political activist and a member of the D.C. Democratic State Committee, told the AFRO\. “I look forward to a quick resolution of this issue.”Not all Ward 4 residents feel the same as Edwards. Leo Alexander, a former television journalist who ran for mayor in 2010, is no fan of Todd’s.Alexander said that Todd can’t cut the mustard when it comes to being a member of the District’s legislative body. “Brandon is a nice guy,” he said. “But he is in over his head as the council member. Everybody can’t be ‘the guy.’ He is just a stooge for Muriel and that’s it.”“Brandon Todd is only accountable to the people of Ward 4 and he goes to the Wilson building everyday fighting for them,” Everett Hamilton, campaign spokesperson for Todd, told the AFRO.