A belief of judgment based on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty is the denotative meaning of an opinion. That is why, Sinking deeper into a pothole crisis, which ran in the November 6 issue of the Guardian, was placed in the Opinion section because it is otherwise an article based on gross distortions of road maintenance across Trinidad.
I find it concerning that a media house that holds such influence over public opinion would publish an article that lacks the proper preliminary research. If such due diligence was performed, the author would know that all of the roads mentioned in this commentary do not fall under the remit of the Ministry of Works and Transport.
It is true that the Ministry of Works and Transport operates the 623-MEND initiative. For the past three years, it has invited members of the public to call our offices to report potholes and other infractions for repair. However, what the author failed to mention is that this programme treats with roads that fall under the ministry’s purview.
It is important to understand the facts. Trinidad’s entire road network is approximately 9,000 km in length. The Ministry of Works and Transport is responsible for 2,135 km which includes highways, main roads and some secondary roads. The Highways Division of the ministry is charged with the maintenance, repair and safety features along these motorways. The streets mentioned in the Opinion piece including St Clair Avenue, Queen Janelle Commissiong Street, Abercromby Street and Ariapita Avenue are not the responsibility of the Ministry of Works and Transport but that of the respective Regional Corporations. Cuthburt Circular Road, the site that staged the “social media sensation” starring the resident that took a bath in the pothole to make a point about the state of road maintenance also falls under the purview of its assigned Regional Corporation.
As well, while the referenced “residents staging fiery protest” paints a vivid picture of general discord, it is important to note that the majority of residential roads are either privately owned or serviced by their respective Regional Corporations.
In spite of the outlook that the writer has tried to convey, the Ministry of Works and Transport remains committed to the entirety of its assigned mandate with the provision of quality infrastructure remaining a key mission. For the year 2019, 1108.61km of roadways received paving or patchwork under the Highways Division while the Programme for Upgrading Roads Efficiency has successfully undertaken 84 projects across Trinidad that include road rehabilitation and slope stabilization works. Despite the financial constraints we have worked hard to do more with fewer resources.
Furthermore, our commitment to facilitating safe and efficient transportation service expands our reach to help maintain roadways that are not our assigned responsibility. For instance Ariapita Avenue, described by the author as “one of the major streets connecting the city to west Trinidad” has been adopted by the Works and Transport Ministry for extensive repair. We are currently in the tendering process to conduct re-sheeting and other surface upgrades to improve its current state. In approximately three weeks, citizens will see evidence of ongoing work in this area.
Taking this narrative into consideration, and the various lines of responsibility that currently exist as it relates to road maintenance in Trinidad, this article places the majority of responsibility on the Ministry of Works and Transport and as such is erroneous, misleading and can be considered as nothing more than unsubstantiated and malformed opinion.