Frustrated over a dangerous rickety wooden bridge in their community, residents of Piparo Road, Tabaquite yesterday held a fiery protest calling for a new bridge.
Shouting “we want we bridge fix right now,” the residents with placards burned debris and gathered at the Piparo Road bridge.
The road is the main access point to and from their community. They complained that on numerous occasions, residents’ feet have gone through gaping holes in the bridge causing them injuries while vehicles have been damaged.
The refusal of taxis and garbage trucks to cross the bridge in fear that it would collapse, have caused residents significant inconvenience.
Staff, teachers and parents would have to cross the bridge to access the Tabaquite Secondary School so to would persons visiting, working or residing at the Piparo Empowerment Centre.
Residents without vehicles have to walk a half mile to the junction to get transport. Sunil Sookram recalled how he had to carry his sick elderly mother in his arms to the junction.
“The bridge very dangerous. I had to tote she and carry she out,” he complained.
Ashram Rakbir said his son, other children and everyone who uses the bridge are at risk of getting injured. “We want the bridge fix.”
Nikki Williams lamented, “This bridge is very impassable and very unsafe. There are big holes. The bridge infrastructure not safe. We need something safe and something secure.”
Kamani Jattan recalled how her car “just slipped off the bridge and went down a hole,” when was dropping her husband to work. “It really unsafe, it not secure, it not passable.
People fall down inside the bridge already and it very dangerous. No rubbish truck, no bread van, no gas truck, no fish van, no school bus passing (on the bridge).
Standing in support of the residents, councillor and chairman of the Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo Regional Corporation (CTTRC) Henry Awong said the bridge falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Works Highway Division and it was last repaired in 2014.
He said numerous letters, as recent as February, have been sent to the Ministry of Works and Director of Highway Narvin Ramsingh requesting that the bridge be repaired.
Complaining that hundreds of residents are affected, Awong dismissed the ministry’s excuse that funding was not available. “It is not a big bridge like the Caroni bridge. It is a small bridge about 30 feet wide. I am sure funding could be made available to fix this bridge.
Awong said residents now want the bridge replaced with a concrete structure.
“We are calling on the Minister of Works Mr Rohan Sinanan to ensure that the people here at Piparo Road, Tabaquite get a brand new bridge.”
When contacted, an official from the Ministry's communication department said Director of Highways Navin Ramsingh is aware of the situation and the ministry is making preparations to repair and rehabilitate the bridge. Ramsingh could not a date when the project is likely to commence.
- by Sascha Wilson