THE EDITOR: The Waller Field-Manzanilla highway and even the Toco highway should be treated as part of a national transportation system with wider social and economic benefits for the country. It is a worthy short and long-term investment. It will help fulfil the bulk transportation that the railway used to.
Given the country’s needs for rural-urban integration and economic diversification, it will also be of strategic value to have the involvement of several other ministries, eg Agriculture, Local Government, Planning and Tourism.
Each ministry should publish a paper on ways in which this transportation project will contribute to its own development plans.
Effective transportation is internationally seen as a critical facilitator for a country’s social and economic development – with environmental concerns, where existing, treated accordingly.
The traffic congestion, transportation inefficiencies and risks in the north-east and eastern roads are well known. The age-old narrow Valencia road has long been recognised as a congested “death strip.”
Even with the recent Valencia bypass, the Eastern Main Road congestion has gotten worse, displaced, and moved to the upper Valencia/Guaico stretch. An expanded transportation system is clearly justifiable in that area. In this, the roads to Mayaro should be widened with supporting street lights for traffic safety.
This highway project will help bring “forgotten people” into the social and economic mainstream of society, making them feel a fuller part of civil society. Among its many contributions to the country’s welfare are:
1. Quick, efficient transportation for overall development.
2. Agricultural development, reduction of the country’s food import bill.
3. Inproved fishing, craft, small and medium-size roadside trade.
4. Increased beach and eco-tourism.
5. Improved efficiency for the energy sector.
6. Improved school transport, taxi and bus service.
7. Significant reduction in traffic congestion; reduction in pollution and productivity losses.
8. Significant increase in jobs through construction and business expansion.
9. Reduction in rural migration to urban, city centres.
10. Improvement in citizens’ public safety and the region’s coastal and onshore security.
11. Increase in the national tax base in the long run to help balance the cost for this transportation project.
12. Significant boost to social and economic life in Tobago, as well as increasing socio-economic integration between two islands.
PROF RAMESH DEOSARAN via e-mail