Even as the $178 million Moruga Road Rehabilitation Project (MRRP) runs almost two years behind its completion date, paved parts of the roadway are already crumbling and threatening to destroy homes in its path.
For the past month, 82-year-old Gloria Callendar rises early each day and anxiously walks outside to see how far down the hill her home slipped during the night. She lived in Cachipe Village, Moruga for the past 43 years and now, as a widow, she shares it with her children and grandchildren.
The recently paved road in front of her house is collapsing, her staircase and outside plumbings are not where they were, and her trees are falling. In the night, it is difficult to sleep as the creaking sound of a falling utility pole outside her house worries her that disaster may soon come.
As rain falls, the landslip worsens, and Callender said if the Ministry of Works and Transport does not stabilise it soon, she and her family may be out on the street.
“If the house falls, where will I go? I have been trying to avoid all of this by asking them to come and fix the landslide. I am getting pension, so if my house falls, I have no money to build it back,” Callender said.
Her daughter Deborah Charles explained that a small slippage developed in 2018. When she reported it to the Ministry, officials told her that when the rehabilitation project began, a contractor would address the landslip. However, when work began, and Charles inquired, personnel told her that the scope of work did not include repair to that landslip.
“Every time the rain falls, the land slips, the whole house slips so it is like a disaster waiting to happen. Nobody is coming to say or do anything,” Charles said.
For years, residents of Moruga protested over the road conditions and in October 2017, the Ministry of Works and Transport launched MRRP. The project entailed rehabilitating 35 kilometres of the Moruga Road from Grand Chemin, Moruga to Petit Café in Princes Town. The ministry contracted Carib Asphalt Pavers Limited, General Earth Movers Limited and Lutchmeesingh’s Transport Company Ltd for the project. The completion date for the project was in 2019, and even as work continues, there are several failed sections of the roadway, including a large hole that can fit a small car. It is a danger to drivers as the only alert is a few barrels placed around it.
Moruga/Tableland MP Michelle Benjamin believes the ministry needs to re-evaluate the project as it overlooked several unstable structures.
“The infrastructural work is not holding up. Whatever the contractor is doing, it is not sufficient or not what is needed at this site. Although they said geological tests were done, look we are here today, at the sight of active caving and the road is now a one way.”
She said although Moruga is prone to landslips, after allocating $178 million, the ministry should ensure that citizens get value for their taxpayer dollars. Motorists passing along the Moruga Road yesterday were unhappy with how the project progressed.
They too are calling on the ministry to ensure that contractors complete the project in the coming months.
Several calls to Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan yesterday were not answered.