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Portland death trap - Phillips raises concern over road undermined by Rio Grande

Published:Friday | January 12, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips (left) listens to a group including President of the Raft Captains Association Lawrence Chisolm (right), describe the situation of raftsmen impacted by recent heavy rains.
The remains of rafting vessels on the Rio Grande in Portland.

Describing a section of the roadway leading to Rio Grande Rafting, Portland's premier tourist attraction, as a death trap, Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips is calling for remedial work to be done on that thoroughfare.

Phillips, who toured the raft stand at Berrydale in the Rio Grande Valley on Wednesday with a contingent including shadow spokespersons on agriculture, tourism, and transport and works, Dr Fenton Ferguson, Wykeham McNeill, and Mikael Phillips, respectively, spoke about the need to ensure full restoration of the livelihood of the raftsmen, whose equipment was washed away and destroyed.

"The raft captains are badly affected, " commented Phillips.

He continued, "They have been impacted three times over the past three years, and on each occasion, they have been badly affected. Their livelihood has been disrupted, which has crippled their ability to earn to feed family members. They are in need of immediate assistance as they have no other means of earning an income. But one area of deep concern is the undermining of the roadway by the nearby Rio Grande, which if left unattended, could collapse."


95% of rafts lost


Tourism minister Edmund Bartlett and West Portland Member of Parliament Daryl Vaz visited Berrydale yesterday to hand out cheques to the affected raft captains to help restore their rafting vessels.

Approximately 95 per cent of the rafts owned by raft captains were washed away by the Rio Grande during three days of torrential rainfall.

Meanwhile, President of the Raft Captains Association Lawrence Chisholm admitted that they received assistance from Bartlett and MP Vaz on at least three occasions in the past.

He, however, noted that this time around, they were in dire need of such financial assistance.

- Gareth Davis Sr