Passengers in a Sangre Grande-Mayaro route taxi, in Sangre Grande on Thursday. The fare has increased from $20 to $45 after the collapse of a section of the Manzanilla Road meant drivers have to take a longer alternative route. PHOTO BY MARVIN HAMILTON –
THE fallout over the collapse of the Manzanilla-Mayaro Road which is the main thoroughfare linking Sangre Grande to Mayaro, and vice versa, has reached commuters as the regular taxi fare of $20 reached an incredible $45 on Thursday.
With the main thoroughfare being cut off by the collapsed road, taxi drivers and their customers are suffering as vehicles are “under more strain,” and as a result, fares have more than doubled, and travel times have tripled.
Faye-Ann Phillips, who lives in Manzanilla and works in Mayaro, said she has to be ready for work hours earlier.
“I left at 5.30 am and reached Mayaro at around 7. 30 am. It takes 30 to 40 minutes (on the main route). Depending on the traffic, it could now take two to three hours. It usually costs $20 from here to Sangre Grande but now we’ve been told we have to pay $45. “We do not know how long it would take to fix the road,” Phillips told Newsday on Thursday while seated in a taxi in Mayaro.
Another passenger, Tricia Fletcher, of Ortoire Village, said she works in Sangre Grande, and the collapsed road has caused her significant inconvenience. She now also has to take a longer route to visit her children in Mayaro.
Arlene Brazer of Arima said she visited Mayaro to do some shopping.
Owing to erosion and flooding on Wednesday, part of the Manzanilla Mayaro Road collapsed, causing the Ministry of Works and Transport to close the road between the 61km to 70km marks.
The ministry said the closure was necessary to ensure the safety of drivers and the travelling public. It advised the public to use alternative routes.
On Thursday afternoon, the ministry said its technical team was on site assessing the situation to provide a feasible solution for the reinstatement of the roadway in the shortest possible time.
Taxi drivers plying the Mayaro-Sangre Grande route said the alternative route, through Rio Claro and Biche and onto the Plum Mitan Road, then to the Eastern Main Road, is tedious, long and bad.
“Even the Devil is afraid to pass on that Plum Mitan Road, it is that bad. Business is also slow. Drivers are making two trips, for the most, for the day. With the heavier passengers, our vehicles are dragging on the bad road. The police want us to have road-worthy cars, and we do not have road-worthy roads,” taxi diver Ansel Oliver said.
He awaited passengers at the taxi stand at Peter Hill Trace, Mayaro.
Oliver said, “This is the third major flood we have had for the year. This is the worst. The water started coming up on Sunday. By lunchtime it was so high I stopped working for the day. The Manzanilla Mayaro Road is the shortest route.”
He hopes that while ministry officials are planning to fix the collapsed road, they also do some temporary relief on the Plum Mitan Road.
Another taxi driver, Anderson Bartholomew, said: “This new route is costing us more. The drive is longer and the road is damaging our vehicles.” The longer drive means an increase in fuel cost, and drivers are hoping for a permanent fix.
They recalled that the major floods of 2014, made the same road impassable for over a month.
The Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC) has temporarily suspended all services to Guayaguayare operating out of its Sangre Grande depot. PTSC said services would resume once it is safe to do so.