Bad rock is really in a bad state – "beyond the eyes," says THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine.
Augustine was responding to questions from Newsday on Wednesday about the state of the Windward Road between Kendal and Belle Garden, which has been closed to traffic since November 8, by the Division of Infrastructure, Quarries and Urban Development (DIQUD).
This was the result of a land slippage and critical failure of a retaining wall on the seaward side of the road. All drivers were asked to use alternative routes.
Augustine said: “You may not be seeing what we’re seeing in terms of the state of Bad Rock – Bad Rock is really in a bad state. However, it’s not a simple fix.”
He said geotechnical surveys have been done to determine what is happening underneath the road.
“When we say it’s more than we thought, the work that is required would be extremely extensive. We would have to have a design that can stand up to the actual coast, and the fact that there is a high level of coastal erosion along that area all the way down Kendell into Roxborough.
"So the design has to stand up to that, the materials have to stand up to the weathering...what we all know locally as the sea blast. It is a lot more complex in terms of what has to go into the design and the ultimate bill.”
He said in order to fix the area, access to the road would have to be completely cut off, and if that is done, there will be no way to get fuel to the gas stations to the east.
“There is no other way for large vehicles such as the large buses, the large trucks that carry fuel to the gas stations – two in Roxborough, one in Charlotteville – to pass.”
He said an alternative road would have to be built to allow repairs.
“We have to construct a secondary road that would take larger vehicles safely to Long Bed in order for us to cut off Bad Rock completely and to fix the roadway there. That’s the simple challenge that we have – not simple to fix. but it is the challenge that we have.
"I know that we are exploring several options. We have gone to ask the people in Zion Hill if they’re willing to first, give us piece of their land, because we don’t have plenty money. Give us piece of your land to cut a road through, so that we can get a wider carriageway going to Long Bed.
"We’ll give you a little something for the road and we’re at the place now where we say we’ll get the land evaluated and we’ll pay you what the value is.
"So we’ll be able to cut an alternative road that can connect Zion Hill to Long Bed, which will in turn allow for much larger vehicles to get down to Kendal, so that we can close off Bad Rock and fix the Bad Rock area. We have to fix that area once and for all.”
He said it also speaks to the fact that in most places in Tobago, there is only one road, which hinders efficient responses to natural disasters.
“One carriageway means that it could be blocked off at a moment's notice. People can be marooned easily. One carriageway means that if you have real emergencies you can have nowhere to go, and it's just sad that after all these years, we were contented with just one carriageway all around.
"We have to just look beyond the existing main roads and find interconnecting roads to connect communities outside of the traditional routes.”
He said Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC) buses drop off commuters by the Eastside New Dimensions pan tent and at the nearby Bay Road junction, as the drivers have refused to go further.
“Currently, I am reviewing a proposal from PTSC for us to contract some small maxis to take people from Belle Garden all the way to Charlotteville, because right now you can’t get to Charlotteville with the bus, and transport is hard from Belle Garden."