Bus route, highway cleared after Beetham protest

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday


File photo. – Marvin Hamilton

Commuters and drivers on the Priority Bus Route (PBR) and the Beetham Highway had to wait in traffic for about an hour as disgruntled Beetham residents burned garbage, blocking drivers entering Port of Spain early on Monday morning.

Police said residents, upset over alleged delays with sewerage works in Beetham Gardens, took matters into their own hands at around 5 am, throwing rubble and garbage onto the west- and eastbound lanes of the highway and part of the PBR.

Officers from the Inter Agency Task Force (IATF), led by ASP Dhanraj Ramesar, and the Highway Patrol Unit went to the area and spoke with residents, who told the officers about their frustration.

Police said no one was held for the protest.

Newsday visited and spoke with an officer, who said the residents followed the police’s instructions.

“When we engaged with them they were polite and complied with us to stop blocking the roads.

“They accepted responsibility and owned up to it, but we couldn’t pinpoint exactly who was involved, so no one was arrested.”

Police said the debris on the highway was cleared within 30 minutes with help from the fire service and the Port of Spain City Corporation.

The rubble on the PBR took about an hour to clear. As at 7.30 am, all lanes were cleared.

When Newsday visited the area the scent of raw sewage was still strong and residents complained about the scent.

“It’s terrible we have to live like this.

“The whole point of this is to get the attention of the Minister (of Public Utilities) and WASA that we are fed up of smelling this.

“It’s unbearable and we’ve been living like this for months.”

One resident claimed WASA workers were deliberately stalling working hours so that operations could extend into the night for overtime payments.

In November, Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales said major work on sewer lines in the area, which involved replacing the lines, installing a new pump and restoring the roads, would be completed by the end of January.