Yesterday’s early morning protest by residents of Barrackpore should warn the Government about the rising level of frustration in communities across the country over the state of the nation’s roads and bridges.
Works Minister Rohan Sinanan cannot simply lay the blame on overweight trucks and WASA and hope to leave it there.
While both are contributory factors, the real problems are the lack of enforcement of the law, timely maintenance of roads and other infrastructure as well as project supervision, much of which lie at the ministry’s door.
The continued failure to meet basic maintenance requirements has been dramatically shown up by this season’s very heavy rainfall events. They have ripped up weakened roadways and in some cases completely washed them away. The minister should be asking some serious questions of his engineers who certify road repair and paving projects. It is also quite disingenuous of him to complain about being blamed for potholes when he is responsible for only 21 per cent of the roadways, with local government bodies responsible for much of the remaining 79 per cent.
Minister Sinanan belongs to a cabinet to which he and the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Kazim Hosein report.
Deplorable is perhaps the mildest of adjectives that can be used to describe any number of roads, major as well as minor, in many different parts of the country. The scenic drive through the northern range, from Arima to Blanchisseuse, for example, is a case in point.
Treacherous physical conditions on a roadway characterised by frequent uphill-downhill and curvaceous territory is the order of the day. For many people wishing to make that particular journey, it is a much safer, less hazard-prone venture to make the drive from the east through San Juan and Santa Cruz to Maracas and Las Cuevas. But what you give up in terms of the easier terrain, you lose on added mileage and time on the road.
This is just one example of how the atrocious conditions of roads nearly everywhere in the country needlessly add to the stresses of everyday work-life realities.
Residents in the Carli Bay area, another district regularly in the news for one challenging reason or the other, demonstrated how they were forced to get together and find their own means of fixing impassable roadways leading to their life-sustaining fishing enclave.
In the community of Lightbourne Trace, Bon Aventure, Tabaquite, just in the last week, the nation saw the chances residents and visitors alike must take, driving over a rickety wooden bridge.
One motorist was heard to say a shorter alternative is a second choice because the physical road condition itself is a turn off.
Extraordinary vehicle wear and tear adds to the other associated costs for people who must use such unattended roadways to get to and from their necessary appointments. For such residents it does not matter which minister has responsibility for which road.
Minister Sinanan has a signal responsibility to own the confidence reposed in him, having been appointed to this portfolio for a second consecutive time.