Since the Piparo Bridge collapsed, flinging giant chunks of concrete pillars into the river below, 87-year-old Margaret Jaikaran has been risking her life crossing the bridge.
“It’s the only way to get my medicine,” Jaikaran whispered, adding, “I don’t have anyone to do anything for me. I need to walk out the road to get the things I need.”
The bridge which leads to Lower Piparo is partially holding on.
It collapsed on Saturday around 1 am, uprooting water lines.
Since the collapse, dislodged concrete pillars have blocked the Guaracara Tabaquite River.
Taxis, garbage trucks and vehicles transporting goods can no longer pass on the Piparo Road to get into the community.
With no pipe-borne water, villagers say they cannot access truck borne water unless the bridge is fixed. The villagers placed a rusty barrel and a sign to warn motorists not to cross the bridge but despite this one man damaged his suspension when his car became stuck in a gaping hole between the caved road and the sunken bridge.
Speaking to Guardian Media, resident Stephen Jeet said heavy vehicles caused the bridge to cave.
“Last week I noticed heavy cement truck going to Piparo, there was some big construction and this is one of the reasons this bridge collapsing also,” Jeet said.
He noted that the wooden bridge, which was there before the bailey bridge collapsed under the tenure of former Works Minister Jack WarnerHe said though when the bailey bridge was brought in, it was placed on the pillars of the old rotten wooden bridge.
Another resident Amos Boodoo said the bridge was supposed to accommodate vehicles less than three tonnes.
“When they brought in this bailey bridge there were two signs saying maximum weight three tonnes but someone took a hacksaw and cut it down and this became a free flow for heavy machinery,” Boodoo said.
He noted that the entire area remains without water.
Asked if there was an alternative route, Boodoo said residents will have to cross the infamous mud volcano and make a three-mile detour to get to the other side of the bridge. With no taxis working in the community, a private hire could cost as much as $70.
Businesswoman Talia Meighoo said there were many businesses that are now affected by the collapse of the bridge.
“Everyone from Piparia to Tabaquite uses here. We have chicken farms, shops, plant shops, farmers. Many people here are over the age of 70. Some of them don’t have a family to care for them. This is a serious situation and we want this bridge fixed as soon as possible,” she said.
Another resident said a bamboo patch near the Guaracara Tabaquite river had collapsed blocking the watercourse.
“The water is backing up and this could also be why the bridge eroded,” the resident said.
They are calling on the Ministry of Works to fix the bridge as soon as possible.
Efforts to contact Minister of Works Rohan Sinanan for a comment proved futile.