Speeding drivers, heavy trucks damage Manzanilla bypass road

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

FILE PHOTO: From left, Mayaro MP Rushton Paray, Works Minister Rohan Sinanan and Cumuto/Manzanilla MP Dr Rai Ragbir walk along the $14 million Manzanilla/Mayaro bypass road at its opening on January 2. – ROGER JACOB

SPEEDING drivers and heavy vehicles are damaging the temporary$14 million Manzanilla/Mayaro road.

Responding to questions posed by Mayaro MP Rushton Paray in Parliament on Wednesday, Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan said the unpaved road was being damaged by heavy vehicles and speeding drivers.

Last November, heavy rain led to the collapse of several sections of the main road, which was deemed impassable.

In January, a temporary fix, the bypass road, which cost some $14 million, was opened to restore a direct connection between Manzanilla and Mayaro.

On Monday, Paray, who praised Sinanan and the two contractors for speedily reconnecting Mayaro with Manzanilla, complained that the ten-kilometre bypass was full of potholes.

He said since the bypass road was opened, about 80 per cent of the surface has deteriorated.

Asked what remedial work was being done, Sinanan said: “A temporary diversion of an unpaved road using mill material was built in order to restore connectivity between the respective communities in the shortest possible time frame. The diversion has a speed limit of 40 kilometres per hour.

“However, due to motorists not adhering to the speed limit, and heavy vehicles using the roadway to assess the energy facilities in the Mayaro area, from time to time, damage to this roadway will occur.”

He said his ministry continues to check the road weekly, maintenance work is done when required, and as recently as Monday, the road was checked and deemed in satisfactory condition.

The Works and Transport Ministry is looking at designs and studies to rebuild the original road, which collapsed in 2013 as well, in what Sinanan called “a very sensitive area.” Repairing the stretch of road after the collapse in 2013 cost some $40 million, Sinanan told Parliament.

“It is a very sensitive area and the studies have to be done. We are working now with the Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA) the Environmental Management Authority (EMA), the UWI and different units at the ministry to ensure that when we construct the road in the future, the road can withstand (regular use) and does not damage the Nariva Swamp.”

Sinanan added that while studies are being done, several requirements must be satisfied for a permanent solution so that while the road is being rebuilt, the Nariva Swamp, which borders the main thoroughfare, is not damaged. He expects work can begin before the rainy season.