Chairman of the Mayaro/Rio Claro Regional Corporation Raymond Cozier has slammed the Ministry of Works and Transport for its "wait and see" approach to fixing roads, after the main thoroughfare from Mayaro to Sangre Grande was cut off by a collapsing road.
Children missed school on Wednesday, and workers stayed away from their jobs as part of the Manzanilla Mayaro Road collapsed, owing to flooding and erosion.
People who could not afford the longer and costly alternative routes via Rio Claro and Biche, which is also hazardous because of landslips and falling trees, remained at home, hoping for an early resolution to the situation.
Later on in the day, the Ministry of Works and Transport ordered the closure of the road between the 61km to 70km marks, saying it had become a hazard to the public.
In a statement, the ministry said the heavy flooding was caused by water from the Nariva Swamp draining onto the roadway at four locations and outfalls into the sea.
“However, due to high water levels in the swamp, there is significant flooding across the surface of the roadway and there has been an erosion of a section of the embankment and road structure.
“Due to the hazardous nature of the roadway, the Manzanilla Mayaro road is closed at this time, pending our structural assessment.”
Saying it regrets the inconvenience, the ministry advised drivers to seek alternative routes where possible.
The Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC) has also temporarily suspended all services to Guayaguayare operating out of its Sangre Grande depot.
Commuters using this service have been advised to make alternative arrangements until further notice. PTSC said services will resume once it is safe to do so.
In a telephone interview on Wednesday, Cozier said for quiet a number of days the constant rainfall has left the water at a high level in the area known as The Coconuts, spilling onto the roadway.
“The force of the water has started to erode the road. This morning we saw the erosion and it is going to get worse if that water continues to rush along that area.”
He said while that portion of the road falls within the jurisdiction of the Sangre Grande Regional Corporation (SGRC), “it has impacted on us.
“Many of our children pass that way to get to school. Their parents are already hard-pressed to send them to school, and that new route they would have to take through Rio Claro and pass through Biche is very costly.
“Taxis passing through the water also increased their fares. Parents cannot afford that cost so a lot of kids have been home for the past days.
“A lot of people from Mayaro work at the Grande hospital. People from Port of Spain come to Guya to work, so it is impacting very negatively on our region.”
What is worse, Cozier said, is that the ministry is not offering any solution.
“It is a wait-and-see game right now. Like they are waiting for the water to run off to see what can be done.”
The ministry also ordered the temporary closure of the SS Erin Road. It said this became necessary after a portion of that road also collapsed near the 24.4km mark, corner of Skinner Trace, on Wednesday.
The ministry said slope stabilisation work is to be done, but at this time the relocation of utility services is underway and work will commence once the weather condition is favourable.
It has advised commuters to use alternative routes via John Field Road onto the Fyzabad Branch Road. SEE PAGE 8