Saturday, September 18, 2010

Letter to the Editor (re TT's dangerous sidewalks)

The gaping manhole into which the elderly man fell

The Editor:

At about 1:30 p.m. today, Friday, I was driving in pouring rain from Port-of-Spain, heading east. The roads were like rivers of brown water. As I hit the traffic on the Eastern Main Road, I was tempted to pick up two people just to be eligible to drive on the bus route and get home quickly. But as I passed the gas station and neared the traffic light in Champs Fleurs, I saw that the road ahead was clear and changed my mind. Good thing. As I reached the next corner, Gordon Street, I was just in time to see an elderly man get out of a maxi and step straight into a gaping manhole.

I quickly turned the corner, parked my car and ran to help him. A male youth also came to his assistance. The poor man was down in the manhole. Raging brown water was running through the drain. He could have been swept away. Luckily he had the presence of mind to save himself by using his arms. By the time he was back up on the pavement, he was shaking like a leaf, his left leg was bleeding under his pants and the underside of his right forearm from elbow down was bleeding profusely.

I got some napkins from the nearby parlour to place over his wounds. The elderly gentleman was shaking so much that he could barely hold the napkins in place. The youth and I put his umbrella and groceries in my car and I drove him home. He was telling me that as he stepped out of the maxi, his glasses were foggy, so he did not see the manhole.

This manhole is at the corner, where students of Mount Hope Secondary School gather daily, sometimes jostling each other and not looking where they are going as they move in large groups. A small-bodied student falling into that manhole may not be able to save himself/herself as the old man did. When it rains, the flood waters passing through those drains are relentless. How many times do we read about children getting swept away by flood waters in rainy season?

The sidewalks in this country are deplorable. Manholes without covers seem to outnumber those that have covers. And even most of those with covers are either broken or function as see-saws. This country can more than afford to provide new covers for all manholes nationwide. Relevant authorities, please look into this as soon as possible, before worse occurs.

Elspeth Duncan,
St. Augustine


Lynn Cohen said...

I am shaken to the core reading this. It sounds unreal. How can this be? Children are actually lost in rainy seasons flood waters? How terrifying. I pray that your words are heard, your letter taken seriously. Did the man not require medical attention? I would have wanted to call 911. Thank you and the young man for coming to his elders' aid. Oy, this is terrible that it could even occur.

Elspeth said...

Yes, it's awful. I've gone back to his house twice since, to see how he is, but each time no answer. The neighbour said he lives with his daughter, so at least he's not alone. I left a note in the mailbox for him to call me.


This is frightening. I too have been observing, with much trepidation, even more treacherous precipices on pavements all over -- Curepe, Tunapuna, Old Piarco Road etc. What about the children, the blind, the physically challenged and elderly folks? Makes one wonder "who cares in this country". I intend to post an article in my new blog 'Thorns and Rambling Roses' on this topic also.