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As work continues on Pt Fortin highway, Diamond, Esperance residents protest road closure
A day before the new school term opens, residents of Diamond and Esperance staged protests as they braced for a possible traffic nightmare with the planned closure of Papourie Road. The road is expected to be closed off today to facilitate construction of the Golconda to Debe segment of the $7.2 billion Point Fortin to San Fernando highway.
President of the Diamond/Esperance Taxi Drivers Association Mahadeo Boodlal said signs have already been erected at Esperance and Golconda. He said the closed road will inconvenience more than 4,000 people who use the road daily. Boodlal said if Papourie Road was closed, motorists would have no other alternative but to make a five-mile detour through the M2 Ring Road in Debe.
“People who have to drop their children to school across the hill will have to go through San Fernando and then come back around to Esperance…This cannot work,” he said. As an alternative, he suggested that a track should be paved temporarily to facilitate the people of Diamond and Esperance. He called on the main contractor—OAS Constructora—to erect an alternative passageway alongside the existing site.
Another resident, Khatija Kalloo, who transports students, said she was worried about the planned road closure. She described traffic along the Golconda area as horrific and said it will take her three times as long to make her regular trips. “If the road is closed, we will take more than an hour to get to Esperance…We have lots of children who go to school in Diamond, Debe and Esperance and this road closure will be distressful for us,” she said.
She added while they supported the construction of the highway, they wanted authorities to intervene. “We want the minister to organise an alternative road for us. We cannot take the detour through Golconda and Debe,” Kalloo added. She said that the road should remain open today, the first day of the new school term, until an alternative route is constructed.
Works Minister Emmanuel George could not be reached for comment yesterday as calls to his cellular phone went unanswered.
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