The simultaneous protests saw scores of residents from Moruga, Whiteland near Gasparillo, Rio Claro and Cedros on the streets from as early as 4 am yesterday demanding the authorities intervene and address infrastructural problems.
Several residents of Fifth Company and Indian Walk in Moruga said they were up since midnight planning for their second day of protest. Different locations along the Moruga Main Road, Mandingo, Samuel Cooper, and Lengua roads were blocked with burning debris. Single mother Valene Dyer, whose wooden house is at risk of being damaged by a collapsing retaining wall, called for the Programme for Upgrading Road Efficiency (PURE) to be reinstated so residents’ concerns can be addressed.
A year ago, Works and Infrastructure Minister Jack Warner, Moruga MP Clifton De Coteau and other Government officials met with her and affected residents and promised to address their concerns within two months.
Warner has stated that due to the halt of the PURE for an audit by the Finance Ministry he has been unable to effectively repair deteriorating roads, drains and walls throughout the country. “If PURE is the thing hampering them from carrying out their duties effectively, then we have to go beyond PURE. Who is behind this? Let them come and speak to us. We look forward to seeing the Minister of the People, Housing, the Prime Minister if so be the case,” said Dyer. Speaking on behalf of residents, Dyer added constituents no longer want the MP nor the councillor, Rafi Mohammed, to visit them since the two men made it clear they cannot do anything about the problems. “Lives are at stake. We are in danger and we realise nothing is being done,” Dyer said.
Due to land slippage at Fifth Company Village, several homes are immediately affected by the retaining wall which is near collapse. The residents estimated that about 20 persons would be homeless if the wall collapsed.
“The entire constituency is in a mess. We have a right to proper living conditions. What is hurting is they spending millions (of dollars) on trips and the roads need fixing. Moruga/Tableland is a marginal seat, it could shift at anytime,” Dyer said as protesters clapped in support.
Police officers as well as personnel from the Princes Town Regional Corporation and Fire Station removed burning debris but as they cleared one area, residents blocked others.
At Whiteland Junction, residents armed with placards, gathered to highlight similar concerns. Secretary of Upper Corosal Community Council, Terry La Mothe said residents feel neglected and called on the Water and Sewerage Authority to provide them with a steady supply of water. “Landslips are threatening homes. We have no water. Mayo Works (Ministry department) is neglecting the community. Every time we want to have bushes cut, we have to have a confrontation. Vehicles are mashing up because the potholes are so big,” La Mothe said.
Council president Joseph La Mothe said residents are trying to get a CEPEP crew to cut overgrown bush regularly. Joseph said Tabaquite MP Dr Surujrattan Rambachan had failed them. “I have been to his office on four occasions. He came into our area in November. But we want proper road and water. The Corosal Road leads to Gran Couva and lots of people use the road,” he said.
Councillor Henry Awong said he sympathised with protesters as the area had been neglected for so many years. “They were living in hope that when we got into power, their road conditions would be addressed,” he said.
Awong also represents parts of Rio Claro (Jeffers Crossing) and confirmed protests were taking place there too. He added he has written Warner about the problems of his communities. For the past two weeks, Rio Claro residents blocked roads.
Further afield in Cedros, residents of Bamboo Village blocked the roads demanding they be repaired and also called for a water supply. They complained they have to depend on the rain to get potable water.
WASA yesterday stated it was experiencing difficulties due to mechanical problems at the Granville Water Treatment Plant which had resulted in a drop in production. In the interim a truck borne supply would be made available.