Barrackpore residents want landslides and road repaired
Laurel V Williams
Residents of Upper Barrackpore blocked part of Papourie Road on Thursday morning to highlight its condition and call on the government to fix it.
They burned debris and blocked the road, saying rapid land movement has caused at least three massive landslides in recent months.
The road was then cleared, allowing cars to pass in one lane.
The worst of the three landslides is near the property of retired schoolteacher Phenola Bachan. Already, his two-story concrete house and yard have several cracks. She fears losing the entire property to the landslide if nothing is done to fix it.
Bachan wants the authorities to stabilize the land and save it from further destruction.
Holding a sign outside his house, Bachan said, “I’ve already spent a lot of money and the road keeps slipping.”
She said she had spent around $300,000 since January trying to save the property. She thinks that the rain and an underground water leak are responsible for the rapid movement of the earth.
On Tuesday, workers from the Ministry of Public Works and Transport were carrying out sanitation work on the site to allow the passage of cars.
President of the Princes Town/Barrackpore Taxi Drivers Association, Rennis Ramjattan, said the whole drive from Barrackpore Police Station to Princes Town Taxi Rank was terrible.
However, he said workers from the ministry and regional penal societies/Debe and Princes Town had worked together to fix it.
Like others, he wants the road and landslides fixed, but believes protests are not the solution.
“The ministry is aware of the problem, but work has not yet started. The public must give the ministry time to prepare the documents.
“Today the taxi drivers had to take another route which is longer. We too want the road repaired but we did not protest,” Ramjattan said.
Activist Edward Moodie said the saturated clay-like soil was pulled about 800 feet down.
He thinks the only way to stop the ground from moving is to build a retaining wall on Bachan’s property and repair the road surface afterwards.
“Her house is cracked in two, and she’s trying to get some work done. She’s piled 32 feet deep, but that wouldn’t help. She needs a retaining wall down that hill and work to prevent surface water from going underground and causing further pull,” Moodie said.
“If we are going to go down the road of a lawsuit against the state showing that it is responsible for what happened, we are ready to go down that road.”