Dust hell in Somerset
Swirling dust caused by heavy-duty units carrying material through Somerset is just one of several issues that has triggered the ire of residents and taxi drivers, who are demanding solutions.
During a protest on Thursday, outside the gates of the Coast to Coast Quarry Enterprise, the taxi drivers accused the company’s truck drivers of being inconsiderate road users who continue to impede their flow and damage their vehicles.
“The main issue is the dust and this is caused by the overloading of the trucks and it is happening continuously over the years with neglect. At some point in time, the quarry may use tractors to clear the road, but when they do that, they damage the road and create more dust,” Dean Johnson, a taxi operator explained.
Johnson is demanding that water be used to keep down the dust and that the road be properly cleaned daily. He is also urging truckers to extend courtesy and be mindful of other road users.
“The road is narrow and you know trucks on a whole drive as if the road is theirs, so when you are passing around a truck and the truck lean, all the material from the truck is dropping on your car. Sometimes the guys have to buy new windshield and passengers have to stop and shake off marl before I can move again,” he added.
The residents maintained that the road is not a designated haulage road and should be treated as any other parochial or main road.
“There needs to be some signs on the road for other road users who may not understand the road. Sometimes when we buck up on the trucks, we have to reverse quarter mile for them to pass. There also needs to be a security outside of the gate that directs the trucks from the compound, because sometimes they drive out and by the time we hold brake, the car slide ten feet down the road,” said taxi driver Leroy Blake.
However, manager of the Coast to Coast Quarry Enterprise, Andrew Henry, said though he has already secured the services of road cleaners, damped the roadway and ensured that trucks leaving the compound are properly monitored the additional concerns will be taken into consideration.
“We know what the problems are and we endeavour to correct them. It is an ongoing problem and we have always been trying to do our part. Wherever you have a marl quarry you are going to have dust… We intend to wet the road and have people from our organisation help with cleaning and ensure that the trucks don’t leave with excess, unprotected, uncovered material,” he said.
Superintendent of Police Lloyd Darby, who was present for the meeting between the protesters and the organisation’s heads suggested that both parties arrive at an amicable settlement to avoid further protests.