Black Immigrant Daily News
FIX THIS ROAD: Resident Wayne Joseph looks at a section of the rapidly deteriorating Caratal Road on Monday. File Photo by Lincoln Holder
Parents of children from Caratal Sacred Heart RC School in Gasparillo have kept their word by keeping students away from classes owing to deplorable roads.
Thursday marked the third consecutive day that students had yet to attend school. On Tuesday, the first day of the new school term, parents and students staged a placard protest to highlight the road’s condition and to call on the authorities to fix it.
They complained that access roads have also been cut off owing to multiple landslips, including a major one near the school.
“So far, there no road works have started. We were expecting they would have started fixing something to make the road passable to get to the schools. Cars cannot pass on the Caratal Road to reach the school,” the parent said.
The school has about 70 students, 11 of whom are set to write the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) examinations this year. The school has nine teachers.
The Education Ministry has proposed online classes for students.
But parents said they prefer in-person classes.
“We heard that the staff were advised not to do online classes,” another parent said.
“With online classes, the children do not take in the work as they should. At home, they are more relaxed. But the teachers would see exactly what is happening when they are in the class.”
Newsday learnt that a staff meeting was set to take place on Thursday to discuss “the way forward.”
Last month, the TT Unified Teachers Union (TTUTA) called on the Government to use the Christmas vacation to fix bad roads affecting members.
Citing safety and securities issues, the union charged that teachers might have to resort to accessing “extraordinary leave” if the road woes continue.
TTUTA’s president Martin Lum Kin added, “We were simply advising our members that this classification of leave is applicable should they be unable to report to school due to impassable roads or protests by villagers due to poor road conditions.”
Caratal Road falls under the purview of the Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo Regional Corporation.
The chairman Henry Awong told Newsday that remedial work is set to begin on Friday morning. He said materials were already transported to the area.
“That area needs much more than remedial work. That is all we can do for now until more funding becomes available. But at least it will be passable so the children can return to school. In this region, we have 130 landslips,” Awong said.
“Some fall under the corporation and the Ministry of Works and Transport. The recent heavy rains caused many existing landslips to worsen, and new ones formed.”
The ministry is responsible for the maintenance of highways and main roads.
Awong said the corporation has written to the Ministry of Rural Development and Local Government’ via its Secondary Road and Rehabilitation Company, a special purpose road-repair company, to help bring relief to the burgesses.
Another rural community that is plagued with landslips is Santa Maria Village in Moruga.
For a few weeks, last term, staff and students of the Santa Maria RC School on Penal Rock Road did not have classes owing to a few massive landslips.
“Water trucks could not get to the school. Only high vehicles could pass because the road is eaten away, and the weight of trucks would cause it to collapse. For cars to pass, they must drag. Up to a few days ago, the community was almost cut off from the rest of the country,” a resident said.
“But we have good news- repair work started on one of the major landslips a few days ago. It is a start, and we hope the ministry would tackle the other landslips and the road.”
This school has 72 students, with 13 preparing for the SEA examinations.
Residents suggested that the Penal Rock Road be renamed Penal Mud Road to suit its current state.
This is a road that connects Penal to Basse Terre Village in Moruga.