Residents traversing the Matthews Ridge to Baramita Road, in Region One (Barima-Waini), will have a smoother ride as a massive road rehabilitation project advances.The rehabilitation of the approximately 40 kilometres of roadway commenced in March this year and was expected to wrap up before the end of the year.A $318 million contract was awarded to A and S General Construction Incorporated for the rehabilitation of the laterite road. The acting foreman for the project, Vincent Pancham said to date the work was 50 per cent complete. He explained that prior to the works, the road was covered with heavy bush and was inaccessible, which required crucial work.Pancham explained, “If it weren’t for the weather, the work would have been completed. The scope of works includes excavation of the road, the establishment of the carriageway which is 24 feet and the placement of laterite on the road. We also had to do the drains and shoulders of the road and widen it.”The unpredictable weather patterns continue to be a challenge for hinterland road projects. As a result, the contract for the rehabilitation of the Matthews Ridge to Baramita roadway was extended to eight months from the original six. Pancham assured that providing there was favourable weather, the works would be completed in four weeks.“We’ve had other unforeseen challenges which were dealt with. The laterite while accessible was difficult to dig up. Our excavator was occupied for one month getting the laterite. Bridges were also a challenge: we replaced the beams of the 26 bridges along the route to cross them. Nevertheless, we do expect to complete the works within four weeks, as long as there is good weather,” the acting foreman is quoted by the Department of Public Information (DPI) as saying.Several other rehabilitation projects are ongoing in Region One, including the upgrade of roads in central Port Kaituma to concrete structures. This project is being executed by International Imports and Supplies, and the main access road from the airstrip to Port Kaituma is being completed by KP Thomas.InvestigationOnly last week, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo had expressed deep concern over the construction of major road projects in Regions One and Four. He simultaneously called for the Auditor General’s Office to investigate them, as the contracts may contain requirements to enable acts of corruption.Jagdeo said these projects included road works taking place along Port Kaituma and Mabaruma roads in Region One.Some $213.2 million was awarded to KP Thomas and Sons in May 2017 for repairs to the Citrus Grove Main Road, Port Kaituma, Region One. Meanwhile, a $110.2 million contract for the Mabaruma road project was awarded to Mohammed Ramzanalli Khan Construction. This project entails the installation of approximately 3500 feet of concrete road or rigid pavements and drains within the community.“We believe that the tender process was tampered with so as to inflate the contracts by hundreds of thousands of dollars in these road projects,” the Opposition Leader said.However, the Opposition Leader explained that these sums are hidden through a different form of corruption involving the layer of the asphalt. According to him, some forms of corruption are enabled through contracts and others through the force account.