THE Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago will control access to and maintenance of the upper part of Cumberland Hill, above Fort George, the site of most of this country's major private and public electronic transmitters.
On Tuesday, chairman of the Diego Martin Regional Corporation Sigler Jack told Newsday significant progress has been made in terms of discussions, not only to upgrade the hill but centralise its management, after a discussion between all the hill's private and public users.
The corporation is currently responsible for maintaining the road, as with other non-major or main roads within its boundaries.
"Government agencies and private users who use the hill came together" at the meeting, Jack said, during which a system to "improve and upgrade the whole area (was established)."
This means the part of the hill from Fortt George to the top of Cumberland Hill will have a separate point of entry and will be controlled.
"All stakeholders have been asked to contribute," Jack said.
Newsday recently ventured to the top of the hill in a 4x4 truck. The road is currently unusable for regular sedans. It is not secured, and anyone with a truck can reach the top.
However, certain vehicles, including trucks carrying diesel for the transmitters' generators, have reportedly been unable to reach the site. After recent landslips, private users, including the TT Publishers and Broadcasters Association, as well as a number of its members, individually expressed concern about the potential for further deterioration of the road to cause a nationwide communications crisis.
The dilapidation at Cumberland Hill has been an issue during the terms of several corporation chairmen, including the immediate past chairman, Symon de Nobriga, who is now Minister of Communications.
Along with staff of state-owned station TTT, de Nobriga recently visited its transmitter facility but he provided little feedback as to the purpose of the visit and plans, if any, to work with the other public stakeholders in upgrading the hill.
"I did stop at about three locations where there were landslips to take a look, but none prevented us from passing," de Nobriga told Newsday via WhatsApp.
"My ministry wouldn’t be the one that addresses matters like this, but the Minister of Works and Transport is fully aware of the situation, and I know the Ministry of Works and Transport had equipment there earlier this week," he said.
A number of private stakeholders told Newsday Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan has been particularly open to addressing the issues despite their not directly being his responsibility. Sinanan got engineers to assess the site and was awaiting a report.
Jack told Newsday a budget was once created to undertake substantial upgrades but since considerable time has passed, a fresh budget is being prepared.
Jack said he visited the site himself recently and observed the abundance of overhanging trees.
"You see what's going on with the weather...It's not normal. (The weather) has brought on new problems."
He said when the soil on the hill comes loose the trees will naturally come down.
Jack dismissed assertions that government agencies had neglected the hill and said the private sector needed to play its part.