“Trinidad and Tobago,” I patiently repeated for the second time.
“What?” She frustratingly retorted.
Works and Infrastructure Minister Suruj Rambachan has blamed a lengthy tendering process for the delay in installing cable barriers along two major highways. Speaking at the weekly post-Cabinet press briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister, St Clair, yesterday Rambachan said $15.4 million had already been spent on the incomplete project, with barriers already installed along 22 kilometres of the Uriah Butler and Solomon Hochoy highways.
Rambachan’s statement comes a little over a week after three members of a family from Penal were killed when a garbage truck crossed the median and collided with their car near the Endeavour Flyover, Chaguanas. The couple—Mahadeo and Nanda Ramcharan—were returning home after taking their 13-year-old son, Nyron, for dialysis at the Eric Williams Medical Science Complex, Mt Hope.
Following the triple fatality, public information officer of the Police Service, Insp Wayne Mystar, renewed a call for more barriers to be erected along the nation’s highways. Rambachan said: “Our delay has been due to the fact that since April we sent these documents for tendering to the Central Tenders Board and only on July 19, I believe, the determination was made by the board to the award of the tenders. So it took us four months just to get this process through tendering.”
He did not identify which firms were awarded the contract for the project or its projected completion date. Rambachan noted that a significant number of accidents where vehicles crossed the median which separated the north-and south-bound lanes had been avoided since the barriers were installed on segments of the highway. “Four hundred vehicles have hit the cable barriers since they have been first established. Over 100 vehicles were really prevented from going acrosss the median,” Rambachan said.
Repairs to sections of the barriers damaged in the accidents have cost his ministry approximately $2 million. Rambachan said contractors were soon expected to begin installing barriers from Grand Bazaar to Chaguanas and from Ste Madeleine to Golconda.
“The reason we have no cable barriers yet between Chaguanas and the Chase Village flyover is very simple. We are going to be widening that road to three lanes on both sides on that area. Because we are cramped for space we will be using the concrete barriers along the middle of the median,” Rambachan said.