Saturday, February 24, 2018

Gridlock as residents block roads


FIERY PROTEST in La Brea: Police had to be called out yesterday to clear the blockades set up along the main road linking La Brea and Point Fortin, after residents, angry over the poor state of the roads, set up burning road blocks at several points. —Photo: MICHAEL De ABREAU

Mark Fraser

RESIDENTS of La Brea blocked the main road with burning debris, causing traffic gridlock in the south-western peninsula for several hours yesterday. Shortly after midday, residents of Pt D’or blocked the Southern Main Road at seven points as they protested against bad road conditions and broken promises to have the roads fixed.

In a response, Minister of Works and Infrastructure Suruj Rambachan said he had already mobilised contractors to carry out road repairs, but there was a shortage of bitumen in the country and the product is being imported.

“I am aware of the situation and the ministry is mobilising resources there. There is a shortage of bitumen, but we are bringing in supplies from Barbados and Jamaica which will be arriving on September 10 and 13”, Rambachan said. He apologised to commuters for their distress, but said that that road works should be done in that area within the next seven to ten days.

Local government councillor of Brighton/ Vessigny, Gerald Debisette said the roads were virtually impassable.

“A lot of promises were made in the last few weeks and nothing has been done. School opened on Tuesday and children are arriving late for school because of the traffic caused by these road conditions. Why must it reach a boiling point before anything is done?” asked Debisette.

The councillor said that some three weeks ago an official of the ministry of works conducted a site visit.

“We were promised that work would start soon, but nothing has happened.”

He said there was no footpath for school children near Vessigny Secondary School to Union Village junction, and to Vance River Primary School.

“Road works were done at Vance River but WASA dug up the road and there was no proper restoration. Some areas of the road have turned into one lane for traffic, and that could create accidents because people do not want to drive on the bad roads”, said Debisette.

Mayor of Point Fortin Clyde Paul agreed with Debisette that the roads were impassable.

“The roads are terrible. Motorists have to take alternative routes to get to San Fernando. There is nothing the Point Fortin Corporation can do about that because those roads fall under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Works. The ministry (of Works) is aware of the problems because the corporation has been informing them,” said Paul.

The traffic congestion was eased after some three hours as police officers of the South-Western Division Task Force and La Brea Police Station arrived at the various points and caused the debris to be removed.

Rambachan also said that the constant shifting of the land near the Pitch Lake in La Brea would always cause a deterioration of the roads.

Residents however are promising to continue the protests if the roads were not fixed.