OFFICIALS were forced to close the Manzanilla-Mayaro Road yesterday- temporarily halting movement in and out of the area – after heavy flooding led to the collapse of part of the roadway.

The situation was so bad that the Ministry of Works and Transport advised that “due to the hazardous nature of the failure, the Manzanilla-Mayaro road is CLOSED at this time, pending our structural assessment.”

Residents making their way into Manzanilla and surrounding areas were forced to seek alternative routes.

It was the second time for the week that the Manzanilla-Mayaro Road was submerged under floodwaters.

But yesterday the flooding was overwhelming as excessive rainfall left the major connecting access road covered with a vast volume of water, leaving it only passable to higher vehicles before it was closed.

According to the Works Ministry, there was an erosion of a section of the embankment and road structure.

Residents there said it occurred along the northern end.

Commuters estimated that as much as three feet of water accumulated along the roadway and the TTMS (Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service) Office advised caution to anyone accessing the roadway.

“The Road is falling, it is caving in right now, don’t come up here. We are heading back out, we can’t make it in,” one commuter posted on social media yesterday.

Speaking to the Express, Member of Parliament for Rio Claro/Mayaro Rushton Paray advised everyone to avoid the use of the road given the potential instability.

“I met the Met office team heading into the water. From the video it would seem as though there is a collapse on the outer edge due to the velocity of the water and my recommendation is that no vehicles should use that route.

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“Before we were okay with the SUVs (Sports Utility Vehicles) and higher vehicles traversing but based on the road collapsing we don’t want any vehicles.

“There is no way to tell the stability of the roadway underwater at this time. The last time the road collapsed was back in 2013 when that very road was destroyed and had to be rebuilt because of a similar situation,” he said yesterday.

At 10 a.m. councillor for the area, Kenwyn Phillip, said that water throughout the region had subsided.

He said he was informed of the breakage and was going to visit the site to evaluate the damage.

On Monday, the stretch had also flooded, restricting commuters and emergency access.

Phillip said then that the floods were greatly exacerbated by the construction of a private development that obstructed a major watercourse in the area.

Due to a large volume of water passing through, he said, flood water being drained from the Nariva Swamp could not flow into the ocean.

“When they put on the pumps in the Plum Mitan area, it pulled out all the water from that area and it came down to the Nariva Swamp. What we are seeing there now, we don’t know if the pumps are on but if they do we will expect more water.”

He called for the Ministry of Works to investigate the issue.

But yesterday, Phillip said, he had not heard back from the Ministry of Works.

The ministry said it will be conducting a structural assessment of the collapsed roadway and apologised for the inconvenience.

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