Burning debris and blocked roads were the order of the day as protests over various problems swept through seven areas in south Trinidad yesterday. Almost simultaneously protests were mounted in:
• Rio Claro
• La Brea
The issues included bad roads, no water, no government representation, no jobs and a dilapidated school building. From 3 am, commuters were unable to enter or leave the Mayaro/Rio Claro area as burning debris, including tyres and old appliances, and trees were dragged across the Naparima Mayaro Road. The blockage took place at various parts of the road from Deep Ravine to Agostini Village.
Spokesman Bunny Mahabirsingh said the road was a major road network, but yet it had been in a deplorable state for several years. He said their appeal to their MP Winston "Gypsy" Peters had fallen on deaf ears. "This is coming from UNC people. This is nothing political. We get no representation from him. We get fail representation," Mahabirsingh complained, adding that several attempts to meet with Peters had been unsuccessful.
In La Brea, a group of more than 50 residents staged a rowdy protest, calling on the management of the Port of La Brea to give them jobs. Meanwhile, parents shut down the Asja Barrackpore Primary School which they said was in a deplorable condition. Protests over bad roads were also held in Tabaquite, Fifth Company, Moruga, and Corosal Village, close to Whiteland.
President of the Corosal Village Council Joseph Mothe complained that a big landslip had made traversing along the road leading to their community very dangerous. Complaining that the road had not been paved in 31 years, he said taxis had refused to service the area, making it difficult for their children to get to school and back home.
Mothe said they also had no pipe-borne water and the community tanks supplying the area were empty. He said their MP, Suruj Rambachan, visited the area a few weeks ago and was aware of the problems, but had done nothing to help them. Meanwhile, residents of Cedros, Icacos and Granville also took action in Cedros over no water and bad roads.
Residents suggested that the Government scrap the $7.5 billion Point Fortin Highway and use the money to upgrade existing roads and construct the Point Fortin Hospital. In a telephone interview, Pt Fortin MP Paula Gopee-Scoon said when she heard about the protest in Cedros, she called the spokesman who told her they did not get a water supply in a month.
Gopee-Scoon said when contacted, an official at the Water and Sewerage Authority said they were repairing the Granville Station. The official, she said, assured her that from today, the authority would be directing water to those areas on a scheduled basis. Calls to the cellular phones of La Brea MP Fitzgerald Jeffery, Mayaro MP Winston Peters, Moruga MP Clifton de Coteau and Tabaquite MP Suruj Rambachan went unanswered.
De Coteau and Rambachan are out of the country on government business. During the 2010 general election campaign, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, then Opposition Leader, had promised: "I pledge to establish a Ministry of the People where groups of concerned people can take their grievances and be heard rather than have to resort to burning tyres and demonstrating on the street."
The current Ministry of the People and Social Development deals with social services and programmes.