Sinanan pleads for patience on Point roadworks

While Point Fortin and La Brea res­i­dents mull more protests over the con­di­tion of the South­ern Main Road, Works and Trans­port Min­is­ter Ro­han Sinanan is call­ing for pa­tience as he notes three road re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion projects have been start­ed in the com­mu­ni­ties over the past two weeks.
His com­ments fol­lowed yes­ter­day’s protest by Point Fortin/San Fer­nan­do Taxi Dri­ver’s As­so­ci­a­tion mem­bers who re­fused to work yes­ter­day.

In Union Vil­lage, res­i­dents al­so blocked the road with burn­ing de­bris in protest over the poor con­di­tion of the road­way.
How­ev­er, Sinanan said be­cause of the soil tex­ture and vol­ume of traf­fic flow­ing to the in­dus­tri­al towns this min­istry had a re­al chal­lenge on its hand. He said this was why the min­istry was speed­ing up its award of con­tracts to com­plete the Solomon Ho­choy High­way Ex­ten­sion to Point Fortin. He es­ti­mat­ed that the project will be com­plet­ed by the mid­dle of 2020 but phas­es will be opened when com­plet­ed.  
“We sym­pa­thise with road users, but there are chal­lenges with the road be­cause of the tex­ture of the soil and there is con­stant move­ment of the road. We ac­tu­al­ly have three projects on­go­ing in that area,” Sinanan said.
“Be­cause of move­ment, you have the WASA lines that will leak from time to time, so we do have a chal­lenge in the area and that is why we are con­cen­trat­ing to en­sure that the high­way is com­plet­ed.

“Once the high­way is com­plet­ed, we will have a sig­nif­i­cant amount of traf­fic now op­er­at­ing on the high­way. It will take that vol­ume and we will con­tin­ue to have a main­te­nance of the main road.”

Ten­ders for the re­main­ing phas­es of the high­way project be­tween Rousil­lac and Point Fortin have been ad­ver­tised and are ex­pect­ed to close with­in the next three weeks, Sinanan said. He is al­so hop­ing that a con­tract will be award­ed soon af­ter to en­sure the project stays on sched­ule.
When a news crew took a dri­ve to Point Fortin yes­ter­day there was lit­tle tak­ing place along the road­way. In Union Vil­lage, a tree that was cut down for the protest leaned pre­car­i­ous­ly on util­i­ty lines. 

From 5 am yes­ter­day, taxi dri­vers parked their ve­hi­cles at the taxi hub in Point Fortin and re­fused to work leav­ing scores of com­muters strand­ed. As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent John David said many com­muters re­turned home while some were able to ac­cess oth­er modes of trans­por­ta­tion. He said the as­so­ci­a­tion al­so got sup­port from PH taxi dri­vers.
Speak­ing to Guardian Me­dia by phone, David said the as­so­ci­a­tion did not or­der the vil­lagers to block the road but sup­port­ed their stance. He said they too were be­ing af­fect­ed by the poor road con­di­tions like the taxi dri­vers. Asked about Com­mis­sion­er of Po­lice Gary Grif­fith’s re­cent state­ment that pro­test­ers will be dealt with by the po­lice, he said the of­fi­cers can on­ly ar­rest a pro­test­er if they see the in­di­vid­ual in the process of block­ing the road.
“If the po­lice just see peo­ple stand­ing and watch­ing, who are they hold­ing? It is the same po­lice who have to use the road, so why doesn’t the Com­mis­sion­er meet with the min­is­ters to see if they can get the road fixed to help the of­fi­cers? We are al­ready pay­ing five per cent road tax so the Com­mis­sion­er should try to see what he can do about this sit­u­a­tion,” David said.
Taxi dri­vers said they were faced with in­creased main­te­nance costs as the roads are rid­dled with pot­holes, many of them as a re­sult of work done by WASA. They said this adds to their op­er­at­ing costs, which in­creased with the re­cent hike in the price of Su­per gaso­line.
Their con­ten­tion is that be­tween Point Fortin and South Oropouche no ve­hi­cle can dri­ve for five min­utes on a smooth sur­face. As a re­sult of the con­di­tion, they said disc pads, shocks and tyres con­stant­ly go bad.

- by Kevon Felmine. Photo by Kristian De Silva.