Dismissing Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan’s assurance of an aggressive road rehabilitation programme, a group of South Oropouche businessmen yesterday embarked on a road repair exercise in their community.
“That is the propaganda we have heard in the media, that the Minister of Works and Transport said they did 50 per cent of the road. I could tell you about this southern part of Trinidad. We haven’t seen any evidence of that whatsoever,” said businessman Clint Arjoon.
He complained that the Government sometimes focuses on building new roads rather than maintaining existing roads.
Arjoon and several other business people pool their financial, material and equipment resources to repair a two and a quarter mile roadway from the Mon Desir highway exit to Silver Stream.
He said the materials include stone, gravel, used concrete, used asphalt and oil sand. “We have different equipment here. We have excavators, rollers, bob carts, dump trucks and flatbed trucks that are bringing material, some of which I have sourced and some is from other business community members that would have sponsored some sort of material and contributed some labour.”
Estimating the cost of the material to be approximately $25,000, Arjoon said the project was expected to take five to six hours to complete.
“It has a few hundred potholes, very deep depressions. One depression was so bad that a vehicle ran off the road after going into the depression and bounced a fencing that damaged the fencing.
Fed up with pleading for the road to be repaired, he said they had no choice because of the high cost of maintenance to their vehicles and the loss of business.
“We have many little businesses on this road and we have certain specialised businesses where people from very far away come to this area and sometimes it’s a deterrent for people to come and do business in our area and we lose revenue. So the only thing after from constant begging to the government to fix road. We have to do it ourselves because we have no choice to be able to try to help create a good economy in our area, so we have to get people from outside of here to come and patronise our business,” he explained.
Arjoon said he has been repairing the road on his own for more than eight years, each time spending over $10,000.
He explained that previously Brazilian firm Construtora OAS, the former contractors of the Solomon Hochoy Highway Extension project, repaired and maintained all secondary roads leading to the project.
“They used to even invite the communities and sit with them and identify what it is that we needed and they used to solve the problem. With the local contractors, they are not doing anything, just damaging our road and not fixing it. They are not even giving us material to fix it.”
Asked if the Government will be upset as they got no permission to repair the road, Arjoon said, “What I can say that the Government would be very happy to know that residents all over Trinidad is doing this because they have to be able to cater for their vehicles to prevent damages and by extension the Government is going to save money from doing proper repair work.”
In an interview with Guardian Media last month, Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan stated the ministry identified 500 different road projects to be tackled in an “aggressive” repair programme for this year, of which it has completed 50 per cent of those in the first phase.
He had said that this was expected to be completed by the end of March before engaging in the next phase of 250 projects.