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Traffic chaos on Beetham Highway as road caves in
Drivers entering Port-of-Spain escaped injury yesterday as a portion of the Beetham Highway, between the traffic lights intersection at the Central Market and the lighthouse, collapsed shortly after noon yesterday. Residents of Sea Lots said they directed traffic to ensure there were no accidents as police arrived at the scene more than an hour after the hole was first reported.
Engineers of the Ministry of Works were up to last night trying to determine what caused the roadway—one of the main arteries into Port-of-Spain—to suddenly collapse. That part of the highway, on the westbound lane, was closed to traffic about an hour later as workmen from the Ministry of Works began to repair the damaged roadway. It caused a major traffic build-up on both the eastbound and westbound lanes of the highway. The hole measured approximately four feet by six feet.
Works Minister Emmanuel George, who turned up at the scene changed his mind about opening up the Priority Bus Route minutes after he told reporters the matter did not warrant such a development. “No, we’re not considering that now at all,” he said at first, “because where this break in the road is located, we do not think it will affect people so much as to have them use the bus route this afternoon.”
He later said the bus route, between the Mt Hope intersection in the east and the Citrus Growers Association, would be opened to the public with immediate effect. He added in a statement later in the afternoon that public access to the bus route would be until 9 pm. The minister said this would accommodate traffic diverted as a result of the road closure.
George, Minister in the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure Stacy Roopnarine, director of Highways Roger Ganesh and others were on hand to start repair works. “We intend to work here overnight to do our best to reinstate this highway by tomorrow morning so that road users can have access once again,” George said. He then suggested people should not come into Port-of-Spain if it was not absolutely necessary, and those who had to do so should use alternative routes.
George said drivers should turn off the highway by the Maritime Roundabout in Barataria and use the Eastern Main Road to enter Port-of-Spain. He said drivers could also use the flyover at NP to get into the city. Ganesh said the engineers were trying to determine the cause of the collapse. “We are not 100 per cent certain yet about what happened,” he said. “What we know is that a couple weeks ago, WASA did some repairs here...We’re not too sure if part of our infrastructure was damaged, we can’t say for certain.”
Ganesh said he was hoping the repairs would be completed by 3 am today. However, a release issued by WASA said it had been working with the ministry to correct the problem. It said the reinstatement of the road was expected to start at 7 pm yesterday. WASA said it had successfully repaired an eight-inch main near the collapsed roadway two weeks ago and the repair work remained intact.”
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