Residents of Rio Claro and Mayaro attempted to “shut down the country” yesterday when they blocked several roadways with burning debris to protest the increased price of fuel as well as deplorable road conditions.
In fact, while the protest was in progress at Agostini Village, Rio Claro yesterday, part of the Naparima/Mayaro Road began to sink. Residents attributed the problem to caving lands, a leaking water pipeline and the constant passage of heavy vehicles.
“This is a major landslip. For some reason today, the land started to sink faster while protest was going on. This road was made for 30 tonnes weight but some companies have trucks transporting 90 tonnes of materials,” truck driver Vishnu Ramdial said.
Ramdial, 57, added that due to the deplorable road conditions at Agostini Village, it does not allow for two-way traffic. Daily, motorists literally fight with each other, accusing one another of wanting to manoeuver the road first. As such, there are constant accidents.
He added, “It is unsafe. Sometimes we have to use personal materials to fill potholes. In January, we blocked the road and the Minister promised to do something by March. Nothing happened and the road is getting worst.”
An increase in the price of gas and disel was announced in last week’s budget. Residents said taxi drivers have already increased the fares and by extension the cost of living has drastically increased.
From as early as 4 am yesterday, residents burnt debris and even placed trees in the roadway blocking traffic at various locations. This caused a major traffic pile-up and even prisoners were brought to the Rio Claro Magistrate’s Court late. Many residents called for an early general election with the hope of removing the Dr Keith Rowley-led administration.
Another protestor told Newsday residents will continue protest action until the problems are solved.
Councillor for Rio Claro North and former chairman of the Mayaro/Rio Claro Regional Corporation, Hazarie Ramdeen, said residents of the Tabaquite Main Road, Rio Claro, also protested. He recalled that under former Works and Infrastructure Minister Jack Warner, repair works were done and so Tabaquite Road is “not bad as the Naparima/Mayaro Road”.
Ramdeen recalled that as chairman, he raised the issue of the major landslip at Agostini Village with former Works and Transport Minister Fitzgerald Hinds.
“Officials from the Ministry came and cleaned up the area. That was it,” Ramdeen added.
Neil Ramdath, of the Communications Unit at the office of Mayaro MP Rushton Paray, stated the issue of the Agostini landslip was raised at all three levels available to the MP.
“This issue was filed at a Parliamentary level on several occasions over the past 18 months. Several letters were written directly to the line Minister. We had the Minister and his technocrats visit the site in June of this year. We have been in contact with the Director of Highways who indicated that it has gone out to tender,” Ramdath stated via Paray’s Facebook page.
Ramdath said the MP’s office has been very proactive in dealing with this matter in terms of highlighting the issue and accused Government of failing to prioritise it.
Ramdath added, “This roadway is a critical communication link to the Galeota Point industrial estate. Priority must be given. The Office of the MP Mayaro will continue to liaise with the relevant agencies to get urgent attention to this matter.”
Officers of the Mayaro Fire Station spent several hours cleaning the roadway. Workers of Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission also had to cut and remove large trees from the roadway.