Slippery sidewalks concern Woodbrook residents

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Woodbrook resident Cecile George speaks to Newsday about the sidewalk conditions along Ariapita Avenue – Paula Lindo

Woodbrook residents are concerned about the slippery condition of the newly-installed coloured sidewalks along Ariapita Avenue.

They said the recent renovations have made them slippery when wet, and claimed several people have slipped or fallen and injured themselves.

They are questioning what conditions masqueraders will face as they pass through the area on Carnival Monday and Tuesday or the throngs on people who visit the many clubs and bars along one of the more popular liming strips in Trinidad.

Woodbrook Community Council chairman Ashelle Wadel said the renovations were part of the Ministry of Planning and Development’s push to make Woodbrook and the Avenue a Carnival hub. She said there had been a breakdown in communication between the residents and the ministry.

“We didn’t realise they were redoing the sidewalk twice. They poured the normal concrete, and then put cement on top of that. They used dyes and stamps to make patterns in the cement, and then put a sealant on top of that.

Residents say the shiny sealant on this Ariapita Avenue sidewalk becomes slippery when wet – Paula Lindo

“When they finished the faux tiles, they didn’t check the effect it would have with water, and when it gets wet the water beads up on the surface.

“I’ve slipped twice on it. In addition, when you walk on the pavement it’s not even. I’ve tripped many times on uneven pieces.”

She said an elderly resident had fallen last week and injured her knee to the extent that it required surgery.

Wadel questioned the effect this would have during Carnival, when people would be drunk while trying to walk along the sidewalk. She said it was almost certain drinks would be spilled, and questioned whether vendors would set up on the sidewalk, as is normal during Carnival Monday and Tuesday.

“In addition, I don’t think the planners thought about what would happen when the revellers pass through Woodbrook on Carnival Monday and Tuesday. The vendors and the pedestrians will have to compete with the plant pots and artificial lights which were put in place.

“Also, we’ve seen the power people have when they’re drunk: the plant pots could be toppled over and the artificial lights ripped up.”

A section of the newly-removated pink-coloured sidewalk in Woodbrook which residents claim poses a potential hazard when rain falls. – ROGER JACOB

Woodbrook resident Cecile George said she has also slipped on the sidewalk, but was able to catch herself before actually falling.

“While the idea is nice and we appreciate the effort to improve the avenue, someone didn’t do sufficient research.

“What the former mayor said last year was that the surfaces would be sprayed with an epoxy solution to make them shiny. Unfortunately, it also makes them slippery when wet, which a quick Google search would have turned up.

“Apparently, you’re supposed to add an anti-slip additive to the compound before you spray it on the road, which seemingly was not done.”

She said this was especially problematic as the population in the area is an elderly one and residents are now hesitant to walk on the sidewalk, preferring to use the road or the drain.

“Many people have also remarked that the feel of the sidewalk is very different from the feel of the pitch. The sidewalk is harder. The activity of walking on the sidewalk is now more jarring to your ankles and knees, and if you have arthritis, it’s now actually less painful to walk on the street. The pitch actually feels a bit softer.”

Resident Janice Ferreira said she hasn’t slipped yet because she walks gingerly on the sidewalk, but this was hard to keep up.

“You can’t do that all the time, and some people wouldn’t think of it.

“I don’t know what they can do to rectify it, but it will be an ongoing problem.

“We didn’t see the need to invest in that kind of beautification on top of repairing the sidewalk. Those funds could have gone into repairing the sidewalks of the north-south streets, which are in deplorable conditions.”

She said she was also wondering how the sidewalks would be kept clean in future, as a template was used to create grooves in them.

Woodbrook resident Cecile George points at the sidewalk where she says she almost fell when rain fell – Paula Lindo

“I’m thinking of that and mould, mildew – how is that going to stay clean? I think it will look very ugly and have to have constant maintenance.

“You have to think about how you’re maintaining something. Pressure-washing has a lot of force: will it take off the film off the sidewalk?

“It reeks of someone getting a nice contract.

“I’m really concerned about elderly people taking nasty falls, and the older you are, the worse it is when you fall.”

She said Carnival would be a good test of what was done to the sidewalks and also how the funds were spent.

“I don’t know what they’ll do with the booths they allow.”

Ferreira said one good effect the sidewalks might have would be to prevent J’Ouvert revellers from coming down the side streets and leaving filth there.

When Sunday Newsday visited the Avenue, some areas where sidewalk bars had been set up were sticky. There were high-use areas which had attracted dirt, and others where the sidewalk was in pieces.

A request for information and comment was sent to Udecott. In an e-mail response, Udecott said it was unaware of the issue and referred Sunday Newsday to the Port of Spain City Corporation.

“Please be advised that Udecott is unaware of any of the issues raised. The questions related to vending, cleanliness and maintenance should be addressed to the Port of Spain City Corporation.”

Sunday Newsday also called the contractor, Unicom Trinidad Ltd, and an official said the company was unaware of the issue and was unable to speak on it as it was merely the subcontractor to Udecott.

Multiple attempts to reach the city engineer of the Port of Spain City Corporation were unsuccessful.

Housing and Urban Development Minister Camille Robinson-Regis said she had heard nothing about the issue.

“I have heard nothing about the sidewalks. I have been keeping abreast of the works and I have not heard about this issue.”