Trinidad, I am not too sure about Tobago, is in line for a world award—the world’s bumpiest roads. It takes the greatest toll on suspensions, shocks and almost every moving part of any vehicle. I have studied the problem for over 50 years.
Motorists complain; public transport complains; truckers beg for relief but it doesn’t seem to matter to the Works ministry or Corporation authorities. Whenever they get around to fixing the myriad of potholes, of which there are too many to count these days—highways, main roads and secondary roads—it simply means either filling them with blue metal or bitumen (where available) and so many times without a roller.
At the end of what seems like a complicated procedure, roads in this country end up like the sea, very wavy and very hard to negotiate because roads either have little hillocks or conversely dressed-up sinks. So, drivers have to become accustomed to the wavy nature of our roads. Smooth or level roadways are a rarity.
Of course, there is another player in this road movie and the main actor is the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA). It would seem that when roads are dug up to repair parts of their leaking pipe network, their engineers take a holiday and the holes created are filled with dirt and a layer of blue metal which is fodder for vehicle’s wheels passing over them. Result: bigger potholes and scattered stones.
Let me give you one example: take Warner Street in St Augustine, a roadway that’s a little more than a mile long which has been transformed from a rural road in decades past to a main road, particularly on mornings and evenings.
It starts off at St John Road on its eastern end with a depression on the right that has been there for decades. Further on the left, about 15 feet from the depression, a large pothole has been ‘repaired’ but it is higher than the original roadway.
Ten feet along is an unpainted road hump used in the fight against speedsters. Wilson Street corner to Deane Street feels like the Tobago ferry going through the Bocas—a leak and several bumps on the road further down after several unpainted humps all the way to Warren Street. The law officers feel safe doing duty watching the schools along the one-way streets.
This is what motorists all over the country are forced to face daily. Can anything be done? Not really because the authorities seem deaf to the cries of the people.
Another problem lies with our postal service. Do you know it takes at least two weeks to get mail from source to anywhere in Trinidad and Tobago? Topping that is the problem of credit card and bank statements, telephone, WASA and electricity bills, which in every case is dated as much as three weeks prior to their being received.
So, you receive these bills many times, after the payment due dates according to the statements, but the hard part is that banks and TSTT are quick to charge late fees or in the case of telephones, cut your lines. All we peons ask is that a better and regular postal service be put in place so all our bills can be paid on time. Is that too much to ask?
By Vernon Khelawan