RADHICA DE SILVA
Hobbling along teary-eyed, with a cane in hand, pensioner Dhanwantee Sinanan gingerly tried to cross a sinking wooden bridge at Oli Mohammed Trace in Penal.
The fear of falling into the Tiripan River is evident on her face as she gazes at the river below.
Since November, the bridge has been slowly sinking, making it treacherous to cross.
Sinanan said she had pains in her foot and because of the condition of the bridge she had to leave her home and stay at her daughter’s residence.
During a protest yesterday, residents said they wanted the Ministry of Rural Development to fix the bridge as soon as possible as it was affecting more than 20 households.
Sinanan’s daughter-in-law Shamin Sinanan said garbage trucks and taxis no longer traverse the area.
“We have to walk for half a mile to put out our garbage. If any of us get sick, ambulance cannot come in. We need a better bridge,” Shamin said.
Pointing to a heap of garbage piled in bags at the side of the road, Shamin said it was unfair that residents had to go through this distress.
“We are humans too. We pay taxes and we are entitled to the same benefits as others,” she added.
Shamin noted that it was dangerous to cross the river as the wall was collapsing under the bridge.
“ People cannot walk safely across. Since they threw the material on top of the bridge a few people take a chance to cross but it is not safe. Most people park their cars out the road and walk to their homes,” she contended.
She explained that if the bridge collapses, residents will have no way to get out of the community.
“We have farmers here who have lots of crops to harvest. How will they go for their crops if they have no way to pass,” she said.
Another resident Shamilla Hamilton said she was fed up of costly vehicle maintenance.
“I punctured my tyre here and I always have to change parts because of the conditions. It’s like I am working only to fix the car,” Hamilton said.
She added, “We want them to build a wall and put a concrete bridge for us. We are paying taxes like everyone else and we deserve to get equal treatment as people in other communities.”
Another pensioner, Parbatee Rampersad, who is partially blind, said she too faces distress whenever she has to cross the bridge.
“I only have one eye. It is a scary feeling because anytime that bridge will fall. They need to fix it as soon as possible,” she added.
Rampersad said she goes to Penal each week to get medicine.
“Taxis don’t want to come here. They drop us out by the road and we have to walk in. Sometimes they charge us $20, $30 and $40,” she added.
Contacted for comment, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Kazim Hosein said the residents can expect relief soon.
He said the contractor collected his letter to begin works on Monday adding that mobilization will begin by Tuesday and actual works should start this week.