The North Coast Road, which was closed to vehicular traffic at 4 pm yesterday to facilitate the removal of debris and rubble from the roadway, will be re-opened today from 9 am, the Ministry of Works and Transport assured last evening.
Portions of the roadway, near the Maracas lookout, were closed to traffic in order to facilitate the completion of works conducted by the ministry to clear all of the debris, including fallen trees and rubble that had blocked the road due to consistent landslips in the area.
In a statement, the ministry said it had engaged the assistance of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service to ensure that motorists abided by the temporary restrictions.
The ministry urged motorists to avoid unnecessary travel along the North Coast Road.
It said additional information regarding the re-opening of the North Coast Road would be provided as soon as it became available.
Heavy rains continued to lash portions of north Trinidad, yesterday, even as employees from the Ministries of Works and Local Government worked tirelessly to clear the roadway.
On Friday, the workers managed only to clear one lane of the roadway, rendering it open to vehicular traffic.
Local Government Minister Kazim Hosein, who toured the area for a second consecutive day, yesterday warned the one-lane traffic was likely to be temporary as rubble from the hillsides continued to fall unto the roadway.
“As fast as we clear the roadway the mountain keeps coming down,” Hosein said.
“So, it is difficult because it is a narrow area around a corner. So, we are using the backhoe and overloader because the heavy equipment is difficult to work.
“We managed to clear the roadway in the evening (Friday) to one-lane traffic so that people could get in and get out.”
Hosein said people who need not be in areas along the North Coast Road should stay away.
Contacted by Sunday Newsday, Works Minister Rohan Sinanan said a plan had been devised to address landslides along the North Coast Road but it could not be implemented until the dry season.
“However, once the dry season starts, we are going to do a geo-tech study on the hill and once and for all bring some sort of relief to it because for years this has been a problem on that hill.
Sinanan said the plan that was used to address landslides in Maraval would be replicated along the North Coast Road.
“Just like what we did in Maraval, last year, December, remember there was a landslip just around Ellerslie Plaza and we had the geo-tech study done and then the design to bench the hill. So, that is exactly what is going to happen there once the dry season starts.
Meanwhile, the San Juan/Laventille Regional Corporation supported Hosein’s view that people should avoid any unnecessary commute along the North Coast Road.
In a release, the corporation said access to the roadway had been deemed high-risk and impassable as a result of landslips caused by continuous rainfall over the last two days.
“The corporation would also like to strongly advise that should burgesses residing within that area attempt to access the North Coast Road that they do so with extreme caution.”
The corporation said it was working assiduously alongside the Ministry of Works to alleviate the current issues and expedite effective clean-up and relief action.
The Meteorological Service in a bulletin said rainfall accumulation was forecast to be in the range of 40 to 50 millimetres, and warned riverine flooding would continue in low-lying areas.
Meanwhile, the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) has advised customers in north Trinidad that several of its water treatment plants remain out of operation due to issues such as turbid river conditions, clogged intake screens and power failures caused by heavy rainfall over the past 48 hours.
In a statement, WASA said the affected areas include Toco, Rampanalgas, Salybia, Valencia, Santa Rosa Heights, Arima, Tunapuna, Tacarigua, Maracas/St Joseph and Speyside to Delaford in Tobago.
The affected plants include Tompire, Matura, Aripo, Quare and Caura.
WASA said the impacted facilities would return to service based on the normalisation of conditions at each location.
“In light of this, customers are advised to manage their water use efficiently as it may take up to 24 hours after restart of operations for the restoration of their scheduled pipe-borne water supply.
The authority assured customers that the water currently being supplied complies with the guidelines for drinking water quality of the World Health Organisation and was safe for use.