St Augustine MP Khadijah Ameen.
FLOODING which left 40-odd families from Valsayn marooned in their homes for days, was not caused by an act of God, but by an act of incompetence on the part of Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan, says St Augustine MP Khadija Ameen.
She said this could have been prevented if a simple engineering plan, with a flood dam and a pump were made available.
Ameen said the plan was submitted to the Ministry some time ago.
At the United National Congress (UNC) virtual platform on Monday night, she wondered whether Sinanan was refusing to service these areas because they are in UNC-held constituencies.
“I will not stand for the constituency of St Augustine being victimised because of who they voted for.
“I don’t care if you want to come in your PNM jersey and campaign, just come and fix the problem because they are citizens of TT.”
She accused Sinanan of continuing to trivialise the severity of flooding, blaming citizens, the gradient of the land, ignoring the fact that throughout TT flooding is occurring.
Noting that citizens have lost their lives owing to flooding, Ameen called on Sinanan to use some of the US$5.84 million disaster recovery fund from the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance facility to deal with this problem.
Remembering Theresa Lynch who was recently swept away by flood water in La Pastora, Lopinot, she asked that works be done urgently in her memory to prevent another life being lost because of flooding.
Ameen said flooding in areas such as Cocorite, Maraval, Arima, Sangre Grande – where flood waters measured four feet high, Cunupia, Chaguanas, Penal, Oropouche, Valsayn South – which saw water rising to as high as five feet to the top of street signs, Woodland, St Helena and Caroni, were preventable.
“Having spent millions of taxpayers’ money, Sinanan has presided over the worst state of neglect of infrastructure and drainage. Citizens have lost their lives, and residents of Valsayn South are marooned in their homes as I speak.
“They are unable to come out of their homes, to access health care, go to school, go to work – and all it requires is a flood gate”
The water began receding on Tuesday.
Ameen noted that one of the roles of the government is to provide either on its own, or in partnership with other entities and other organisations, public infrastructure such as transportation, communication networks, road, bridges, waterways.
“Disaster response is important in governance and running a country. In many countries, including TT, the organ for responding to that disaster falls under the Ministry of National Security.
“While the murder rate is going up, the rest of the MNS is also collapsing. We have disaster management falling apart and we have the man responsible for the prevention of massive flooding, major landslips and preventable disaster – Rohan Sinanan saying it is normal.
“He is saying those areas have a low gradient, that floods are happening all over the world.
“There is an attempt by the MOWT to get citizens to accept massive flooding we are seeing as something acceptable and a normal occurrence, in his desperate attempt to cover up his incompetence and failure as a minister.”
Recalling one of his earlier promises to make flooding a thing of the past, Ameen observed that annually, money allocated to the ministry goes back as unspent balances.
“So, it is not a matter of a lack of funding. Over the last seven years, government has starved local government of resources to undertake maintenance and drainage works which is part of the reason why everywhere in this country flooding now.”
She also attributed the lack of maintenance of water courses, which was previously undertaken by former Caroni (1975) Ltd and Petrotrin, as contributing factors.
She asked for an update on the national drainage plan promised by the PNM during its election campaign, which was to be funded by the Development Bank of Latin America.