Beetham residents protest over sewage leaks

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

HEAR US: Residents from Beetham Gardens hold up placards during an early-morning protest on May 2 over leaking sewer lines which cause raw faeces to flow onto the roads and into houses. – Photo by Enrique Rupert

More than a dozen residents from Beetham Gardens came out on May 2 to hold a peaceful demonstration at the canal that separates Phase One and Two.

Their aim was to highlight the ongoing issue of sewage lines leaking and overflowing onto the roads and into people’s homes.

Joel Lee, president of the Beetham Gardens community council, said, “For the last seven years, we’ve been experiencing sewer problems, without anyone from the relevant authorities coming to resolve the problem and it has gotten worse.

“There’s a burst sewer line below the bridge (that separates Phase One and Two) and near to the houses. The scent is so ridiculous, children ended up in the hospital.

“We are looking to see our MP (Fitzgerald Hinds), the Minister of Health (Terrance Deyalsingh), we’ve been in contact with the Minister of Public Utilities Marvin Gonzales and he assured us that he’ll be there next week.”

Before the demonstration began, Newsday saw members of CEPEP cleaning the canal and drains, with limited use of personal protective equipment (PPE) – no gloves or hazmat suits.

One CEPEP worker complained, “This is supposed to be county council job, not ours!”

The demonstrators, after speaking to Newsday, went onto the Priority Bus Route (PBR), to display their signs and alert the general public to the happenings in Beetham Gardens. Motorists had to slow their vehicles to avoid the protestors who braved the traffic and speeding maxi taxis to try and get their feelings known.

FIX THIS MESS: Beetham Gardens residents risked life and limb as they protested along the Priority Bus Route near their homes on May 2 over leaking sewer lines which have caused faeces to flow on to the roads and into some houses. – Photo by Enrique Rupert

Avisha Warrick, a resident from Phase Four, said, “We are holding this peaceful protest on the PBR, just displaying our placards. Our peaceful voices will be silenced no more.”

She added, “We would like this issue to be solved – not just talk, but action!

“The lines are exposed and WASA (Water and Sewerage Authority) advised us to leave it open for airspace, so it wouldn’t be clogged. It’s also for WASA to come two times for the week (to pump out the lines).”

Warrick and the residents of Beetham Gardens know the worst is yet to come, when the rainy season begins.

“The only reason there’s no overflow right now is because of the lack of rainfall. If rain falls, we are in deeper problems.”

Andrew Joseph, a resident since 1974, said, “I’ve seen everything, from the building of the PBR, to now seeing this issue get progressively worse. This never used to happen in Phase Four. Now it seems like the back-up of sewage is spreading. Things looking real messy right now.

“We are asking those in authority, WASA – the main problem, we need you all to solve it.”