Hindustan residents protest over bad roads. (Image by Rishi Ragoonath)

Unfazed by the Ministry of Works and Transport’s threat of legal action against protesters in Barrackpore, residents are still protesting in South Trinidad.

As early as 7 am residents of Hindustan, near Princes Town, blocked the roads with tyres and debris which they lit on fire, resulting in motorists seeking alternative routes.

Their grievances are similar to the residents of Barrackpore – bad roads and lack of water.  In a statement yesterday, the ministry chastised the residents of Barrackpore labelling their actions as irresponsible and unpatriotic.

The ministry stated that the protests were held at seven locations and it will cost the ministry $375,000 to repair the asphalt surface that was damaged by the fires.  The ministry also warned that intentional damage of government property is an offence punishable under the law and stated that the police will be investigating and appropriate legal action will be taken.

The Barrackpore and Hindustan residents, however, have the support of their parliamentary representative, Moruga/Tableland MP Michelle Benjamin, who has expressed concern over the ministry’s threat. In a statement, Benjamin said she awaits similar action by the ministry against residents of Beetham Gardens for their numerous occasions of fiery and violent protest.  She also questioned how the ministry was able to arrive at such a rapid assessment of damages when no ministry officials were seen in the area and it typically took days, weeks and months for the ministry to do assessments. “I assert that while the MOWT propagates misdirect and attempts to down cry the citizens of Moruga/Tableland, hundreds of my constituents went to sleep last night with no water in their pipes and thousands more will traverse dangerous, dilapidated roads today. Let us call the MOWT’s response what it really is – a direct attempt by this government to suppress the collective will of the masses.”

Benjamin noted that the ministry failed to disclose that the majority of the approximately 70 ongoing and completed projects within in Morugua/Tabaleland constituency which it had referred to in its release are within the remit of the Moruga Road Rehabilitation Project allocation of TT$178million from 2017. Meanwhile, she said, the rest of her constituency has been largely ignored for the past six years.  She called on the Works and Transport Minister to fix the decrepit roads and the Public Utilities Minister to swiftly address the water issues within her constituency.  There are also unconfirmed reports of protests in Barrackpore and other areas at this time.