Written By Devina Samaroo
Truck drivers and porters are frequently left stranded – sometimes for weeks – as they struggle to traverse deplorable loam roads that are flooded with large potholes which only sink deeper during the current rainy season.
The drivers are demanding better conditions since significant sums of money are being lost, almost every time they venture into the interior regions to ply their trade.
However, the Ministry of Public Infrastructure has indicated its efforts to maintain the roads are being counteracted by the very truck operators.
Sunil Doodnauth, a truck operator for over four years, told News Room that just last week, one of just trucks was stuck on the Puruni – Pappishou Corridor for approximately one week and his workmen were stranded without food.
“The road is very bad. You does get stuck in there behind a set of trucks who already stick up. Sometimes you does tek a whole day to try to come around one hole. Nuff trucks does be together, five or six trucks and you does gotto help mattee out,” he explained.
Another driver, Ricky Ranjee vented to News Room about the same Puruni – Pappishou trail, though he noted that there are other hinterland roads that pose similar difficulties.
“I come from Mahdia just now and there’s a big hill going in to Mahdia and it got six or eight truck there that can’t reach up the hill. You left going up halfway and then sliding down back,” he explained.
According to Ranjee, “as soon as you left Linden and you go on the red road, all them vehicles sticking up right deh.”
The truck operator always complained about the hefty expenses incurred as a result of the damages sustained whilst travelling on hinterland roads.
“Every trip you go in and come back, you gotto repair. The road so bad sometimes the power box break, the gear box, the engine. Sometimes the ration you carry for people, it get wet up, sometimes you gotto dismantle the whole truck in the mud. By time you do that two or three times, most of the stuff spoil. The fuel might be the only thing that left good,” he explained.
One citizen raised her concerns with the Ministry of Public Infrastructure as both her brother and her nephew have to endure those harsh conditions.
In the correspondence seen by News Room, the Ministry laid the blame on the truck operators.
“The Ministry’s efforts are being counteracted by operators of private mining or mining-related businesses who choose to use overladen trucks on the roads and engage in other forms of misuse,” the Ministry stated.
It explained that as a result, “the life-spans of these roadways have been significantly reduced, thus compromising the safety standards initially set.”
The Ministry emphasised that it spent significant sums of monies last year in the hinterland regions for the rehabilitation of the roadways.
“Specifically, $54.5M was spent in 2016 to repair the Puruni – Itaballi Corridor. This corridor is still under its maintenance period. Furthermore, in 2017, $100M was allocated to improve the Puruni – Pappishou Corridor,” the Ministry noted.