Mocha/Arcadia residents, police clash in face-off
…as Benn concedes Ministry officials neglected deplorable roadway
Development comes with a price to be borne by many but the residents of Mocha Arcadia,
East Bank of Demerara believes that the price they are paying for a Housing Scheme being developed aback of the locale is too steep.
Residents, police and truck drivers delivering construction materials to the Housing Scheme have to traverse the only access road to Mocha Arcadia. They faced off yesterday morning for several hours with each group demanding that their needs be met.
The residents insist that the trucks using their access road to deliver building materials are over laden and as a result are destroying the road.
Several armed police ranks descended on the area as the residents in protest of the situation blocked the roadway, adamant that the overweight trucks should not be allowed to traverse the road and damage it further.
Operating on instructions, the ranks headed by a Superintendent Errol Watts proceeded to remove the blockage that prevented access to the area. At least four persons were arrested during the exercise.
The irate residents however maintained a presence on the roadway until their plight was heard by Minister of Public Works and Communications, Robeson Benn, who immediately upon arrival conceded that his officials had ‘dropped the
ball on the road maintenance,” ordered that the repairs be undertaken immediately.
The Minister also issued an order that his previous instruction be complied, that no vehicle exceeding 15 tonnes gross weight be allowed to traverse the roadway.
Minister Benn, earlier in the year, had cause to intervene given the state of the Mocha/Arcadia access roadway when he issued the directive.
A sign was erected at that time directing that no truck exceeding the weight limit can utilize the roadway but this, according to residents, was flouted daily.
At Mocha, yesterday morning, several trucks were being held up in a queue as the residents were vehemently denying them entry.
The police ranks however instructed that they had to desist from blocking the roadway and allow the trucks to use the road but this was not achieved until after some struggle where at least one man had to be pursued around the crowd by the Police Superintendent Watts and other ranks until he was subdued and detained.
Ranks were also forced to provide armed escort for some of the trucks in the area as some had threatened the drivers not to comply with the orders to proceed to use the road.
One resident told this publication that Mocha people would normally cooperate with
officials and authorities to ensure that progress is maintained but given the state of the road and the continued abuse of it by the trucks then it is clear that the residents there are being neglected.
Speaking to the state of the road the resident said that at times the condition of the road would become so unbearable that they themselves would have to resort to self help to seek to repair whatever damages they could with the material that they have available.
“Since housing project going on nobody cares about us,” the resident said that seeking to illustrate that ever since the construction of the Housing Scheme North East of the area the roadway has seemingly become collateral damage.
“You see the trucks that coming in here and the road cannot withstand the pressure…the last time everybody block the road they come and they patch it but now they don’t care.”
Minister Benn who was called in to pacify the situation seemed visibly upset at the deplorable state of the road and immediately instructed that it be rectify.
Within moments of the Minister arriving officials and workers could be seen using heavy duty equipment to rehabilitate the damaged sections of the road. Road building materials such as sand and crusher run were hastily being accumulated to repair the road.
The residents are however adamant that the police should have been more sympathetic to their problems and should not have arrested the individuals given that all are affected by the destroyed road.
The road in question starts at the Providence Police Station, East Bank Demerara Public Road and continues east for just over 2 ½ miles. With the arrival of the trucks there were sporadic stretches of almost impassable road.