by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada
Given the time of year, the streets of Gouyave, the city that never sleeps, continue to be abnormally quiet as some shops are forced to close their doors due to a drop in sales.
Some shopkeepers have attributed this to the construction of the L’Anse bridge which has redirected traffic away from the heart of the town. Although shop owners and residents are not opposed to the construction of the bridge, they are feeling the effects of the temporary traffic arrangement.
The new bridge, which cost more than EC$1 million, is being constructed by the international Chinese construction firm Qingdao Fu Haiyang Construction Group Co Ltd. This company is also responsible for the construction of the new Hubble bridge in Gouyave Estate, St John, following its collapse in September 2015.
Anthony Lewis, owner of the Fisherman Restaurant and Bar, stated that since the road closure, he had seen a 40% decrease in sales since the start of the project in June. He attributed this loss of business to the fact that customers are no longer traversing the streets, as the outside traffic has been rerouted to the outskirts of the town.
Despite incurring losses, he says this is a small price to pay for development. “It had a definite effect on business on both parts of the town; from the top side of Depradine Street that been hit the hardest; the southern part which is from the nutmeg pool going back, they have their problems as well, but I think they have suffered less. During the carnival period was even worse.’
On the brighter side, Lewis also said the start of construction of the L’Anse Bridge has brought a much-needed job opportunity for many of the unemployed young people in the area. “As far as I understand it, a lot of local youngsters from the surrounding areas including some Imanis received employment on that project. I think it is an experience they will have for the rest of their lives building that bridge in conjunction with Chinese.”
Other shopkeepers say they are unable to restock their shops for the Christmas as delivery vans must take a circuitous route to get to the other side of the bridge, with some completely abandoning the route altogether.
An anonymous shop owner said he hopes that work can be fast-tracked so that normal traffic arrangements can resume. “The trucks that have to drive right around it going to be hard for them to come here, but the few trucks that are coming they have nothing to sell to me,” said the elderly shop owner as he referred to the difficulties facing the delivery trucks to get to the other side of the bridge.
Despite the setbacks, the residents of Gouyave await the reopening of the bridge which had been in existence for over 50 years, prior to it being demolished.