Thick dark smoke blocked out the sky in Rousillac during the early hours of yesterday, as residents signalled to Government: “Fix our roads or we’ll shut down the entire South-Western peninsula.”
Miles of traffic piled up along the Southern Main Road from Otaheite to La Brea, trapping students, commuters, vehicles and equipment heading to and from the industrial areas of Point Fortin and La Brea. Many businesses remained closed, with only the neighbourhood bars and mini-marts benefiting from the inconvenience caused by some 10 blockades set up.
Burning tyres, mattresses, bed frames and almost any discarded items protesters found were dumped along the Solomon Hochoy Highway Extension to Point Fortin, Mon Desir Road, Southern Main Road, Grant Road and Neranthar Trace. The protesters sent an invitation to Government ministers to drive their luxury vehicles along the pothole-riddled roads. They were supported by their councillors Chanardaye Ramadharsingh and Deryck Bowrin.
“I carry children to school. Since the term started I’ve spent over $6000 and I’m not finished. I’ve changed three link pins so far and I still have to replace some bushings. I want to know who will re-compensate me for the money I have spent to fix my vehicle,” school bus driver Sharon Nichols-Deoraj said.
“Everybody has subsidies for their vehicle, but I don’t have any and I have to work very hard for what I earn, so I will like them to bring their Porsche, Beemer, Lamborghini and their hybrid vehicles and traverse this road as we’ve been doing for the past two years.”
Supporting Nichol-Deoraj, cricketer Hubert Sahibram said since the partial construction of the highway between Oropouche to Rousillac, Grant Road had become a thoroughfare for heavier vehicles and the damage to the road had significantly increased the cost of vehicle maintenance.
He said unless their roads are rehabilitated, they are prepared to the shut down the South-Western peninsula. He said following talks with their MP Nicole Olivierre, it was understood that no works were planned for their communities.
Ramadharsingh, who lives along Grant Road, said the road was paved two years ago under the United National Congress, who oversaw the construction of that leg of the highway. She said it was not a matter of poor workmanship, but the increase of heavy vehicles passing along the road.
Commuters were stranded at taxi hubs in Point Fortin and La Brea under rainy conditions as taxi drivers sat leisurely in their vehicles during the protest action. Most of the PTSC buses remained at the station, while a few were trapped in the traffic. The few taxi drivers who took trips through the Petrotrin field roads increased their fares from $14 to $20 from Point Fortin.