Road protests heat up in Moruga

Fire officers and motorists were trapped in an early morning protest in the village of Cachipe on Wednesday. Photo by Marvin Hamilton
Fire officers and motorists were trapped in an early morning protest in the village of Cachipe on Wednesday. Photo by Marvin Hamilton

Protesters from several communities in Moruga played cat and mouse with the police on Wednesday, the third consecutive day of fiery protests demanding that bad roads and landslips be fixed.

Despite a heavy police turnout at several points along the Moruga Main Road, residents blocked the roads with burning debris. As soon as one area was cleared, protesters blocked another.

Residents look on as motorists navigate on the damaged road following an early morning protest in Cachipec on Wednesday. Photo by Marvin Hamilton

There were simultaneous protests in Cachipe, Rock River, and Grand Chemin.

The Moruga Road runs from Princes Town to Grand Chemin in Moruga.

At Cachipe Village, a three-bedroom concrete house has gaping cracks from constant land movement. Homeowner Lyster Hamilton, 67, said he and his wife and their 24-year-old daughter have nowhere to go.

Protesters burnt tyres at the front of his home, where there is a major landslip. Cars, he said, fall apart trying to manoeuvre the cracks and holes in the road.

"People's bumpers fall off. Since June, the land started moving faster, causing cracks all over the property. The MP (Michelle Benjamin) was here yesterday, and we told her about the problem," Hamilton said.

Standing between gridlock traffic on Wednesday, the Taxi Drivers Association's President for Morouga/St Mary's to Princes Town, Anthony Athanas shows a tariff in an attempt to highlight the number of communities affected as a result of deplorable roads. Photo by Marvin Hamilton

"People from PURE (the Programme for Upgrading Roads Efficiency) came last week and told us if they have to repair the road, we would have to move, because the movement from the heavy equipment would shake the place.

"We do not know how long again we could stay in the house. We have nowhere to go. How long would we stay by a brother and sister?"

PURE is a Works and Transport Ministry unit.

Hamilton hopes someone in authority would hear the family's concern for housing.

Cachipe resident, Lyster Hamilton, shows Newsday major cracks as he has no choice but to abandon his home owing to deplorable roads which threaten the safety and integrity of the house. Photo by Marvin Hamilton

He said his style of highlighting the landslip and road problem was not to protest, but villagers chose the "bad spot" near his home to do it.

"I cannot stop people from burning tyres. Of course, I want the road fixed too."

Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan has said repair work is based on funding availability.

President of the Moruga/St Mary's to Princes Town Taxi Drivers Association Anthony Athanas said the roads are so bad that gas trucks and grocery vans cannot get into the area.

"If an ambulance has to come, that is another problem.

"We got a strong response from residents today, and we thank them for that. Only a few maxis and taxi drivers came out to protest. We need the roads fixed," Athanas said at Cachipe Village.

"The police cleared this part of the road, but we still have to pass a lot of landslips."

Cachipe resident Lyster Hamilton stands outside his home. He said the deplorable condition threatens the safety of his family. Photo by Marvin Hamilton

The protests started before daybreak and caused traffic to pile up.

Oneal Triea, from Santa Maria Village, said part of the Penal Rock Road was blocked with trees. Workers from the Forestry Division later cleared the road. This road runs from Basse Terre Village to Penal.

Photo by Marvin Hamilton

"After three straight days of protests, no one in authority has heeded our cries for help. Farmers' short crops like watermelon and tomatoes are spoiling. Coconut vans cannot come into the area," Triea said "Even the police are affected, because it takes them longer to respond to crime."

The protesters said they would continue protesting until something is done.


"Road protests heat up in Moruga"

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