As the highway leading into the nation’s capital of Port-of-Spain was blocked by the protesters and their burning debris, traffic was diverted on to the already congested Priority Bus Route (PBR) and Eastern Main Road, which led to chaos and gridlock.
Traffic at one time, was backed-up along the Priority Bus Route from as far east as Mt Hope.
“We always have this problem. Anytime there is a problem or an emergency in Port-of-Spain they send people on to the bus route which frustrates the public transportation system,” Linus Philip, President of the Route Two Maxi-Taxi Association, grumbled.
Philip stated there was no need to divert cars onto the PBR. He said if there was a serious problem which required access to the PBR, emergency vehicles would be hindered by the overcrowded route. In Arima, commuters were experiencing difficulty getting maxi-taxi or bus transportation with many waiting for several hours.
Jimmy Assam said he had to wait three hours in Barataria before a maxi stopped for him. “Where I was standing, there were about 50 people. When I looked over to San Juan, I saw there were over 100 people on the main road waiting for transportation,” Assam said.
Assam who was on his way to work arrived in Port-of-Spain at 11.30 am. Despite his three-hour wait, he said it did not take the maxi taxi too long a time to get into Port-of-Spain. Agnes Alexander from Chaguanas was also on her way to work when her commute turned into a four-hour journey. She left her home at 5.30am to avoid any traffic caused by the protests, but the bus she usually takes was late. She waited a half-an-hour for the bus to arrive. When it finally arrived, it took three and a half hours to enter Port-of-Spain.
Nalini Singh from New Grant hired a car to go to work yesterday. Her entire commute was on the highway. She left home at 7.30 am and met long traffic lines on the highway in Chaguanas. She arrived in Port-of-Spain an hour-and-a-half later.
The gridlock also affected the wheels of justice in Port-of-Spain leading to the late arrival of jurors, attorneys, court staff and prisoners at the Port-of-Spain High Court.
Of the two courts ready to proceed with trials, proceedings in the Sixth Criminal Court began at midday while at the Fifth Criminal Court, jurors and witnesses reportedly experienced difficulty in getting to Port-of-Spain because of the traffic situation caused by the Sea Lots protestors.