RADHICA DE SILVA
Fed up of being neglected, residents of Lower Salazar Trace, Point Fortin staged a protest on Friday calling for a total repaving of their roads.
Holding up placards, the residents chanted, "Fix the Whole Road," as they called on the Ministry of Works to pave their road now.
The protestors stopped vehicles from passing along the stretch and threatened to escalate their demonstration if their demands were not met.
Spokesperson Jaikishan Dookeran said it has been more than 40 years since the lower end of Salazar Trace has been paved.
The Upper end of Salazar Trace, known as Phase One, has been paved three times, but according to Dookeran, nothing has been done to fix the cracked roads, landslip and drainage on the lower end of the street.
"We believe this is is discrimination and favouritism. Every time they come to fix, it's only one half of the road that is fixed. The other side is left undone. We are being told that the second phase will be complete when they fix the drains. Why don't they finish the drains and do the entire road? We have senior citizens, the elderly and children living here. We work our whole lives and contribute and we cannot have decent roads and water? This is unacceptable," he added.
Elsie Boodoo, 77, who lives in the last house at Salazar Trace said she has to spend $100 to get home.
"Taxi drivers don't like to work in here because of the roads. If you get sick in here you have to pay $200 to hire a taxi. They say they cannot work here because of the condition of the road. We want the whole road fixed. Its 50 years they have not saved it and we are fed up," she added.
Another resident, Thackoor Kolahal the lower part of Salazar Trace was repaired in 1982.
"We are taxpayers and some of us pay heavy taxes yet we cannot enjoy a simple thing like access to our homes," he said.
Kolahal noted that WASA has dug up the road many times but has not fixed it properly.
The residents called on their MP Nicole Ollivierre to make representation to have their roads fixed.
Contacted for comment, Ollivierre said she was in Parliament and will issue a statement later.
UNC candidate for Point Fortin Senator Taharqa Obika said the protests were the result of economic neglect in the area. He said he found out about the protest while on his way to deliver hampers. Obika said the residents main concern was that promises were made to pave the entire road but only two kilometres were paved.
"Police are here and no one can address any concerns. We want the Minister of Works to answer the concerns of the residents," Obika said.
Contacted for comment, Sinanan said that road fell under the jurisdiction of the Point Fortin Borough Corporation.
"As in many other roads, the Ministry has been assisting. That road is an ongoing project and we have had to do work in phases," Sinanan said.
He explained that paving began on one area where concrete works including drainage and culverts were completed. Sinanan said when the concrete work is completed on the lower end, paving will be done there as well.
He said if paving was done without proper concrete infrastructure, the road will not last.