A new 26-metre bridge with two traffic lanes and two pedestrian sidewalks was formally opened along Paria Main Road, Blanchisseuse on Saturday.
At the opening ceremony, Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan said the original bridge collapsed decades ago and residents have been using a single-lane Bailey bridge for about 20 years. The bridge, which crosses the Yarra river, was tendered at $17.5 million and was completed for about $13 million. The savings is expected to be used for other infrastructure projects in the area, Sinanan said.
La Fillette resident Monica Reyes said she appreciated the new bridge because it would reduce traffic during peak periods, and allow heavy equipment to pass so as to expedite developments in Blanchisseuse.
“It will open livelihood for a lot of people in La Fillette, Blanchisseuse and on the North Coast on a whole. We want to thank the government again for it.”
Arima MP Anthony Garcia said physical infrastructure for any community was important, especially for remote areas, because it allowed larger vehicles to pass and provide necessary amenities.
He expressed thanks to Sinanan and the ministry for also paving the La Fillette Road, said he was assured that the Blanchisseuse main road would be paved soon, and that the road from Arima to Blanchisseuse would “receive some attention.”
Speaking to reporters on the anniversary of the Greenvale Park floods, Sinanan said he was at the HDC housing development during the night of the flooding last year. He said he knew it was traumatic for residents, but noted there was no flooding this year.
“I think as a country we were very lucky that they didn’t have any major casualties coming out of that flooding. Thank God for that. However, I think as a country we have learned significantly from that as well.”
He said more attention was paid to how to evacuate people in the event of a flood, and the ministry did a lot of work on the Caroni and Arima rivers since then. Sinanan said the ministry increased the Caroni river’s capacity to three times what it was, and rebuilt its banks. In addition, he said the Housing Development Corporation built an embankment around Greenvale, installed pumps, and did more drainage work.
He added that in the last financial year, about 400 rivers were desilted and the exercise would continue in this financial year as soon as the dry season started. The ministry was also working on short-, medium-, and long-term plans for flooding all over the country.
“Flooding is a major problem for us and it’s going to be here because of the weather patterns and global warming and things like that. What we feel we have to do immediately, is to work on the existing infrastructure in the short term. Then in the medium term, we look in terms of how we could get new channels and widen the channels. We also intend to look at how we could create retention ponds in some areas so we could retain the water and then pump it into the channels depending on the tide and things like that.”