Craignish Road in Princes Town

SOME REPAIRS DONE: Repairs done last week at Craignish Road in Princes Town.

“Botched.” “Ridiculous.” “Nonsense.”

These were some of the adjectives residents used to describe attempted repairs of a landslip in the Craignish area in Princes Town last week, which many say has worsened the risk of injury and /or death for commuters.

Along this road, a number of slippages have pulled portions of roadway nearer and nearer to the edge. In early March, two freight container trucks nearly collapsed into oncoming traffic as they passed along one uneven stretch, minutes away from the heart of Princes Town and office of the Member of Parliament Barry Padarath.

Traffic bottlenecked as commuters attempted to pass the towering and tilted trucks, fearing their collapse. These incidents occurred once on February 6 and again on March 1.

Concerned residents told the Express then that the occurrence was not new and pleaded for repairs to be undertaken before someone is seriously injured.

“They are waiting for something terrible to happen before they actually act. This is not political to any of the people who may lose their lives on a road because it has been neglected for years. This isn’t a matter of People’s National Movement or United National Congress because both have been in power and both seem to wait to act on these matters and I’m sure these things are happening in other places as well. The question is, are they going to listen to us now?” said one resident.

Padarath told the Express the issue required long-term and short-term fixes that addressed the problem at its root. Providing more access to areas such as Tableland, Rio Claro and Mayaro, he said would relieve the route of excessive use. Addressing the many landslip zones, the MP said, would also provide some relief. However, paving of the area, he said, was putting a “bandage on a large problem that requires major infrastructural solution”.

“The issue is not the paving of the road; the issue would be fixing the many land slippages along this route and building retaining walls to prevent it from slipping further. The trucks that are passing on the road have no other access to get to Rio Claro and other areas. In 2015 we had promised a San Fernando-to-Mayaro length of the highway that passes through Rio Claro and Princes Town. This would alleviate the stress of these trucks using this one road. Princes Town has been a constituency most affected by landslips and landslides, so a long-term solution is needed in terms of the usage of the roads by the trucks. Secondly the medium term and short-term solutions would be the fixing of the landslides before the roads are paved once more,” he said.

Less than one week later, the Ministry of Works and Transport with the aid of the Princes Town Regional Corporation, attempted remedial repairs by paving. In the process, one half of the caving roadway was paved and the other half was left to the forces of gravity.

“What were they thinking?” asked one resident. “The road was actually better the way it was before, now because of this distinct height difference, the risk is worse,” he said.

“The Ministry of Works just keeps doing temporary fixes to the main road. They just keep putting material into the hole without building a retaining wall and after just a couple months the road goes back to the original dangerous state. They did the same thing again a couple days ago but this time they didn’t even bother to cover the base material as yet so the main road is not only impassable for trailer trucks but cars can now barely use it. It is causing significant traffic even on a Sunday, so I can’t imagine what this will be like in the morning,” said another.

“We the poor people work hard all our lives and this is what we get, poor governance. What they did there by the landslip is causing a backup of traffic the whole day today from St Croix Junction coming from the town. A week after this is how our beloved Ministry of Works and Transport fixed the road now there’s a lot more traffic and it’s very inconvenient for everyone,” said another.

A number of residents have also taken to social media to address their concerns.

According to Padarath the issue of repairing the Naparima/Mayaro Road (along which Craignish is located) has been brought up by himself and Member of Parliament for Mayaro, Rushton Paray in January.

Following their pleas, he said, Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan promised that works would begin along the route in the first quarter of 2021. The scope of these works, he said, was not indicated.

“In January of this year both Rushton Paray and myself raised the issue of the rehabilitation of the Naparima/Mayaro Road in Parliament. The Minister of Works and Transport gave us the assurance that work will commence in the first quarter of 2021, this quarter ends at the end of March. The last time the work was done in this period was during election campaigning when the Prime Minister was visiting Moruga,” he said.

The Express reached out to Sinanan and Princes Town Regional Corporation Chairman, Gowrie Roopnarine for a comment.

No response was received.

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