Beetham residents angry, frustrated by ongoing sewage issues

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

A WASA employee prepares to clean a cesspit at a house at Beetham Gardens on Friday. – Angelo Marcelle

Eight days after Beetham residents protested, calling on the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) to urgently address overflowing sewer lines in their community, they say nothing has been done to fix the situation.

In an interview with Newsday on Friday during a visit to the community, resident Jerry Dyer said, “I am very disappointed with the speed at which the authorities are moving to give us some relief here.

“This has been ongoing for years. We have been very patient, sometimes too patient.”

Joel Lee, president of the Beetham community council, told Newsday on May 2 that Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales said he would visit the community the next week.

Lee has been in contact with Darren Corridon, councillor for Beetham/Picton, who has been trying his best.

Corridon said, “Marvin Gonzales said he would be here this week. He said he would call the MP  (Fitzgerald Hinds) to come in with us.

“I called the MP and told him what Gonzales said. He didn’t say yes or no (to accompanying Corridon and Gonzales), but Gonzales said tell the residents that he would visit.”

Newsday called Gonzales, who said he was with his children at the time and asked us to call back in ten minutes. Newsday tried to call back three times, but the calls went unanswered.

Dyer said, “We were told by this Friday (May 10) we would be told something or something would be started. The week is up and no one has visited us.

“The residents of Beetham are angry and frustrated. We are appealing one more time, come and deal with us, please, because this thing will reach very far. We do not want to come out and protest, but we won’t have a choice if we want our voice to be heard.”

When Newsday called MP Laventille West Fitzgerald Hinds and asked him about visiting the area, he hung up.

On May 1, Newsday asked Hinds about the situation and he replied, “Have you contacted WASA? Then content yourself with what WASA would have had to say.”

On Friday, Lee replied to Hinds, “If the MP says be contented with what WASA says, then God bless the MP.”

Corridon said his next steps will be to continue calling WASA and the other relevant authorities, because he understands the frustration of the residents.

Corridon said the issue was getting the right contractor to do the work.

“The bridge needs to be destroyed and then built back. When the tide is high, long time iron was used. It’s now corroded so badly, the sewage back up into people’s bathrooms, yards and toilets, especially in the rainy season.”

Newsday also spoke to a resident who owns a small restaurant. She asked to remain anonymous.

She said the issue has affected her mentally, financially and socially.

“My business is food, and customers would complain about the scent because it’s very pungent. Sometimes I have to stay closed because I can’t sell with that scent.

“I lose approximately $1500 every time I close for the day.”

Asked about her home life, she said her two small children have to “lock up and stay inside.

“It affects my children’s social life, because I try to avoid them playing outside because the sewer comes up on the road when it’s really bad.

“Roughly two years ago, my daughter became really sick and developed a rash on her skin. I was in contact with the MP, Fitzgerald Hinds, to see if he could have helped, especially with relocation.

“Nothing ever came out of it.”

She said during that same period, the sewer line was pumping faeces into her kitchen.

“I had to bear the cost to clean my house after that. The entire house also developed mould. I rented a tool for $300 a day to deep-clean the house.”

Newsday asked a senior WASA official about the main sewer line being rotted and causing major leaks. The official promised to investigate and correct it in the shortest possible time.

Newsday called Environmental Management Authority (EMA) CEO Hayden Romano.

Romano said his cell phone battery was dying. Newsday gave Romano a number to call back, but the call did not connect. Romano then gave this reporter a number for his office but an automated message said the call could not be connected as the office was closed.