Fears over possible repercussion from China forced the former New National Party (NNP) government of Dr. Keith Mitchell to bow to pressure and allow several over-sized Chinese trucks to operate on Grenada’s already fragile road network.
This was told to THE NEW TODAY by a Grenadian Engineer who was working in the government service at the time but is now operating in the private sector.
He was commenting on several huge trucks brought in by the Chinese to do work on the low-income housing projects around the island and for the upgrade work taking place on the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA).
The Engineer said he saw several of the trucks running on the road in one single day within the past two weeks carrying sand.
“These trucks and them are not for our Grenada roads,” he said.
According to the official, a senior employee in the Ministry of Public Utilities had informed him a few years ago that he noticed “some big yellow trucks on the Pier” and felt that they were just too big to be allowed to run on the road.
He said that one evening he went to take a look and personally saw “these big trucks and I say these ain’t running on Grenada roads because they are bigger than the Mac trucks.”
These Chinese trucks that arrived on the island, he said could carry up to 50 tonnes of load in one trip.
THE NEW TODAY understands that the issue was raised with a senior member of the NNP Cabinet who indicated that Grenada would have to allow the trucks to use the road because that “could create a diplomatic thing with the Chinese.”
The trucks reportedly came in from Venezuela because the Number Plates were in Spanish.
The former government employee said it was agreed among the top officers in the Ministry of Works that the Chinese trucks would not be turned back as they were intended for the Housing project.
He said a decision was taken to write the Chinese to inform them that they had to mark the trucks to show the height where the load can be considered as acceptable and carry no more than 25 tonnes, as well as the special hours of the day they can travel to avoid traffic congestion.
“I don’t think they ever did that. The Chinese just laugh at us – nothing really happened,” he added.
China is believed to have taken over from the United States in the past 10 years as the largest provider of assistance to the island for its development.
The Engineer who is now engaged in private sector work after a brief stint in the Public Service is blaming the government for the deteriorating state of the island’s road network by giving approval to too many heavy duty trucks imported by operators in the private sector.
He also referred to those trucks that were given Special Licence (SL) status by a previous NNP regime and have now become uncontrollable on the road.
“…I see these trucks all over the place. They are all over Grenada roads,” he said.
The engineer recalled that when the trucks started to come into the country just over 15 years ago the authorities had indicated that they would only allow them to travel into a number of limited places and even stipulated the time of the day in order to prevent congestion on the road due to the size of these vehicles.
He said that based on the Engineering Road Riding Index, the Calivigny road will be graded Zero due to its state as a result of the damage done to the surface by heavy-duty trucks and other vehicles like trailers.
“The road has deformed,” he quipped.
According to the senior engineer it is now a free-for-all as the authorities do not have any control on what trucks carry on the nation’s roads.
“Nobody checking their tonnage,” he said, adding that, “The road is not designed for this kind of (heavy) traffic.”
The Engineer recalled a conversation with a colleague in the United States who indicated to him that some of the trucks in Grenada will not be allowed to traverse on some of the roads in the United States as they have special routes for them.
He told the overseas Engineer that there is just one major road in Grenada “so all of them passing all over the place.”
There has been a construction boom in Grenada in the past 10-15 years with more and more heavy-duty trucks being imported to carry all kinds of material like Concrete, sand, blocks and steel among other things.