TABAQUITE MP Anita Haynes has vowed to take civil legal action against several ministers and their ministries for failing to fix roads leading to a primary school in her constituency.
Haynes said there are five access points to the Caratal Sacred Heart RC School, but all are in deplorable condition. She said the state of the roads is preventing children from accessing quality education, and litigation seems to be the last recours,e as letters and pleas in the Parliament have failed to evoke any kind of response.
“Every access point to this school is in an absolutely dilapidated condition, and when I raised it in the Parliament, the Minister of Works and Transport, Rohan Sinanan, said there are bad roads everywhere.”
Haynes was at the school on Friday morning, when frustrated residents and the school’s parent-teachers association (PTA) protested.
TT Uunified Teachers Association (TTUTA) president Martin Lum Kin, who was also present, clarified that teachers were not part of the protest, but expressed solidarity with the demonstrators.
He said teachers wanted to teach and have been reporting for work, but risking their safety to access the school is not an option.
There was a report that a teacher who parked her car a short distance away and tried to walk to the school fell and injured herself.
Lum Kin said while he could not confirm that report, it raised the question of liability.
“If a person is injured in the circumstance, who is liable? Would that person receive injury leave?” he asked, pointing out that the teacher would have been injured, not in the "plant," but on the way to the "plant."
He said since the start of the school term last Monday, a kind parent has offered the use of his 4 x4 vehicle to transport teachers to and from the school, because he wants to ensure the school remains open.
He said this cannot be a long-term arrangement, and called on the ministries of Education, Rural Development and Local Government, Works and Transport and Finance to work towards a permanent solution.
Haynes said while Sinanan insists the road is the responsibility of the Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo Regional Corporation (CTTRC), the allocation given to that region cannot undertake the scope of work to be done.
She said it makes sense for the MOWT, with its much larger budget, to undertake the extensive work and leave maintenance for the CTTRC.
PTA member Marissa Pavy said the last time the road was paved was almost a quarter of a century ago, when the late Dhanraj Singh was their MP.
“If a fire take place here, the fire services cannot respond, an ambulance cannot come. The police ketching their tail to drive on this road. Crime could happen and pass, and the police still can’t reach because of this road.
“We are taxpaying citizens of TT, and our children deserve better. We are living in the countryside, but the students of this school are doing well.
“Minister of Works, help we, Minister of Rural Development and Local Government, help we. Councillor, MP, help.
"This has nothing to do with politics. Do it for the residents and the students,. We are human beings.”
PTA president Derrel Henry said the state of the road is an age-old problem, and approximately four years ago, a leaking water line undermined the area just before the school, causing further damage.
He said residents collectively bought oil sand and patched certain areas, but it was unfair for them to have to do so on a continuous basis.
He said taxis refuse to traverse the road, and residents and schoolchildren must pay $25 to get to the school and the community, as public transport buses can no longer manoeuvre on the bad roads.
Residents are continually complaining of the wear and tear on their vehicles, “but like everything falling on deaf ears. Our children have to be educated. We are talking about crime and young people and the need to educate our children.
“How could that happen if they cannot go to school?” Henry asked.
None of the ministers mentioned was available for questions.