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'Soft lockdown' for Piarco airport area

Vehicles entering Piarco International Airport will be stopped and checked from as early as April 10.

The area, which is being called Sector One, will be under a "soft lockdown" in preparation for the Fifth Summit of the Americas, according to Silver Commander Senior Supt Rajindranath Maharaj.

"In the areas of the airport you will see that we will be hiking up patrols. We will be beefing up patrols. At times you will be stopped and checked; cars will be stopped and searched, but this is nothing to panic about. But this will be part of the procedure," Maharaj said at town meeting for residents and business owners of Piarco and environs on Tuesday. The meeting was held at the Civilian Conservation Corps Training Facility on Mausica Road, Mausica,

Asst Supt Earl Jackson admitted there would be discomfort to people in the area and pleaded with those present to work with the authorities.

He said Piarco Airport and surrounding communities - Piarco Village and Oropune Village - would be a security exclusion zone. The zone goes into effect from 11.59 p.m. on Thursday, April 16, and ends at 12 a.m. on Monday, April 20. Traffic routes and restrictions will be in effect during this time.

All residents and businesses within the two villages are required to have access passes to enter their neighbourhoods during this period. For those working at Piarco Airport, there will be a park-and-ride service for employees.

"A shuttle service will take employees to and from the airport compound. Parking will be available at the Prisons Ground on Golden Grove Road and at the Airports Authority Recreation Ground on Caroni North Bank Road," Jackson noted.

These shuttles will escorted by police from the parking areas to the airport.

When the zone takes effect there will be six checkpoints in the area. These will be located at:

1. Agricultural Extension Services - Mausica Road, Centeno.

2. Intersection of Golden Grove Road and Caroni North Bank Road.

3. Water and Sewerage Authority Treatment Plant - Golden Grove Road.

4. Caribbean Airlines Administrations Office - Caroni North Bank Road.

5. Piarco International Airport Roundabout.

6. BWIA Boulevard - Just after traffic lights.

Persons travelling out the country during the period were advised to cater for up to one and a half hours in delays. Prospective travellers will also encounter a checkpoint at BWIA Boulevard.

The security forces are strongly urging the public to refrain from using the North Bank Road to approach the airport and instead use BWIA Boulevard.

Traffic Routes and Restrictions:

- Traffic is restricted along the Golden Grove Road between the Piarco Intersection and Caroni North Bank Road.

- Only local traffic will be allowed beyond the Caroni North Bank Road and the entrance to the WASA Treatment Plant on the Golden Grove Road.

- Only local traffic will be permitted beyond TTPost Headquarters and the entrance to Kater Serv.

- The Churchill-Roosevelt Highway east-bound lane will be made into a two-way road to accommodate regular travellers.

- The west-bound lane will be used for delegates only.

- The BWIA Boulevard will be treated similarly to the southbound lane, and will be converted into a two-way road to accommodate regular traffic.

- The north-bound lane will be reserved for delegates.

- Persons wishing to access the Piarco Airport from St Helena are required to travel along the Caroni North Bank Road, Mausica Road, Churchill-Roosevelt Highway and BWIA Boulevard to the airport.

- Residents wishing to go to Central or South are being advised to take the Mausica Road to Caroni North Bank Road, Carapo Road, then Caroni South Bank Road.

- Residents wishing to go North or into PoS are being advised to take the Mausica Road north towards the Eastern Main Road.