Highway blockage causes hours of traffic for commuters heading south, east

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

For several hours travellers leaving the city of Port of Spain were stuck in gridlock as they journeyed south and east from the capital on Tuesday evening.

Several commuters took to social media expressing their frustration with the slow grind of traffic as drivers described waiting for almost three hours in traffic to get from the outskirts of the city to Maritime.

On Tuesday afternoon an SMS bulletin purporting to be from the Ministry of Public Utilities warned drivers heading south to find another route as the southbound lane of the Uriah Butler Highway was impassable, owing to overflow from the Caroni River onto the highway.

Responding to these reports during a virtual media briefing on Tuesday afternoon, Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan said the police would guide the authorities on whether the Northbound lane of the highway would be temporarily converted to ease traffic and accommodate travellers.

He noted however that reports coming to him from officers on site at the time suggested that water was receding.

“We actually had one lane on either side closed off, there was still two lanes operating. If the water is receding, then there may not be any decision to do that. However, we do take guidance from the police because they have to manage the situation.

“The police are on site and we are taking instructions from them, if the police decide to open the lane.”

Referring to the ministry’s decision to open the Priority Bus Route as of 6 pm yesterday to accommodate drivers, he said such decisions were done with the guidance of the police.

Responding to questions on whether the SMS alert was issued directly from his ministry, Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales said instructions were given to the Telecommunications Service of TT (TSTT) to issue bulletins where necessary.

“TSTT is an agency under the Minister of Public Utilities so I would not be surprised if that text message would have emanated from that sister utility agency.”