Despite attempts by the police and road users to stop their protest, defiant residents blocked the main road at Roberts Village, Tableland with burning tyres yesterday morning.
Protesting over the deplorable state of the Naparima Mayaro Road, the residents said promises were made to repair a massive landslip in the village that had resulted in the temporary suspension of the Mayaro/Guayaguayare bus service last December.
But, the residents encountered opposition by road users, including a police officer, three times.
Exiting an unmarked vehicle, a uniformed police officer cleared the tyres off the road. He then warned the protesters that they would be arrested and charged if they blocked the road.
A second attempt was also thwarted when a motorist threw the tyres down the landslide. As the residents blocked the road again, another driver stopped and tossed the tyres off the road.
Complaining that he was busy, the motorist said, “In this hard time allyuh doing this.”
Minutes later the tyres were put back on the road and set on fire.
“The problem with this road is that since 1995 this road has never been repaired. We are just totally fed up. Our tax dollars have been wasted. Every time we as owners of motor vehicles go to the service station we pay a road tax. Where are road tax dollars being spent?” lamented resident Harrilal Rambhajan.
Resident Felix Legendre also complained that there was no signage to warn motorists of the danger. Noting that there would have been heavy vehicular traffic for Easter, he said, “Allyuh not even putting a sign saying bad road. Suppose something go down inside of there what happening. People will dead right inside of here. I sure you have supervisors from works department passing on this road on a daily basis and ignoring this.” Instead of spending millions of dollars on ferries, he said Works Minister Rohan Sinanan should fix their roads.
Complaining that their livelihoods are affected, pineapple vendor Deoraj Mahase said, “Nobody want to come up here to buy we goods cause the road is so terrible, your vehicle mashing up on this road and is not only here is from Princes Town to straight Mayaro, so nobody is coming from no side and when they do come where normally we is sell pineapple for $3 now we are selling for $2.50 and $2 because they are saying wear and tear on their vehicle.”
Saying that the situation was a nightmare, he pleaded for the assistance of the minister and prime minister.
“Mr Rowley these men you hire not doing their work. Please come here and do your work. We are calling somebody out there in Mars or somewhere we need somebody here. We paying tax.”
Maxi Taxi Association Route 4 secretary Ronnie Singh complained that their income is also being affected.
“We have to do a lot of repairs to our vehicles. It costing us plenty because right now we are at half capacity transporting. Diesel is high, tyre has risen, oil has gone up and when we have to face this type of bad road it puts a real deficit in our income. We just as everybody else have to face the groceries and pay bills but at the end of the day because of the road conditions we cannot do it.”
Showing solidarity with the residents, Moruga/Tableland MP Michelle Benjamin said taxpayers money has been wasted on temporary repairs to the landslip since 2019. She complained that WASA was also digging trenches in the roadway.
Noting that on many occasions she and her colleagues raised concerns about the landslip and infrastructure, she said they were only given promises by the minister. She said the most recent promise to repair the landslip was in December 2020 when the bus service was discontinued temporarily.
“So what we are asking is that the minister delivers on the promises that he is making that will benefit the constituents of the Mayaro constituency, the Princes Town constituency and the Moruga/Tableland constituency. They are taxpayers and they need the assistance of the government.” Noting that it is a major thoroughfare, she said if nothing is done before the rainy season and the entire road caves in, some residents would be cut off while others would be significantly inconvenienced. The residents intend to continue protesting until the road, including the landslip, is repaired.
Guardian Media attempted to reach Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan for comment on the residents’ complaints. Calls were made to his cellphone but all went unanswered.