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Residents of Avocat Village, Fyzabad, protest against the poor road conditions on the Fyzabad Road and the role WASA is playing in its demise.

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It is a slow and uncomfortable ride along the Fyzabad Road and as Avocat residents grew tired of pleading for repairs, they blocked the road with burning tyres in protest.

Chanting “Fix we road now”, they bore placards stating: “Too Much Corruption”, “WASA Fix We Road Now” and “WASA Dig the Road Since August 2020”. The residents said that between August and September 2020, the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) changed pipes in the road, and after refilling the trenches, it never paved the road. Michael Chattergoon said it costs residents thousands of dollars to maintain their vehicles because of the exacerbated wear and tear.

Chattergoon said after spending so much, it is unfair that they have to pay to get their vehicles inspected. He called on Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan and Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to order the road repairs.

“Apparently, Minister Sinanan has no say, so we are calling on the Prime Minister because he always says blame him. He is responsible, so we are calling on the Prime Minister; we are citizens too. Fix our road. Fix our road now,” Chattergoon said. Taxi drivers say they are already losing out on income by carrying three passengers because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Kimraj Mohammed, president of the Fyzabad/San Fernando Taxi Drivers’ Association, said they did not increase taxi fares, despite paying more for parts in 2021. He said the higher cost of maintenance is weighing on their finances.

“Due to the new import tax that they introduced in January, parts have doubled, so the maintenance of our vehicles has doubled,” Mohammed said. Former minister of Works and Transport Dr Surujrattan Rambachan, a resident in the area, described WASA as criminals. Rambachan said it was shameful that citizens have to protest for the Government to hear them.

“It is a tragedy of great proportions in my view when residents have to resort to demonstrations to get their roads fixed. Especially when you are deducting taxes from people, and you are taking money at the pump to fix roads,” Rambachan said.

He said it was tragic that the government reached the state where it uses oil sand to pave main roads instead of asphalt. He said the Ministry owns the Agua Santa Asphalt Plant in Carapo, and during his tenure, the Ministry would allocate material to regional corporations to carry out road repairs.

He questioned what happened to that system. Rambachan hit out at his United National Congress colleague, Fyzabad MP Dr Lackram Bodoe, saying San Francique/Avocat Councillor Doodnath Mayrhoo was doing the work of an MP. He said Bodoe did not raise the problem in Parliament. Rambachan said this was a poor representation from Bodoe.