Caroni residents plead with Works Ministry for help before rainy season

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Caroni residents at a damaged section of an embankment of the Caroni River which they want the Ministry of Works and Transport to repair before the start of the rainy season. PHOTO BY JEFF MAYERS – Jeff Mayers

Residents of Caroni and villages near the Caroni River are once again calling on the authorities to properly fill the riverbanks that are constantly eroded by any amount of rain and especially with the rainy season approaching.

Addressing the media on Monday was David Looknanan, president of the Kelly Village Council, who pointed to the embankment which collapsed during the rainy season in Royal Tern Avenue, Ibis Gardens, last December.

Though there is still some protection, Looknanan said when it rains, the water can reach the top of the 60-foot-high embankment.

In addition to the erosion, there are many cracks along the embankment which can collect rain and further break down, leaving residents with no protection.

Looknanan said, “We have done a complete survey of rivers in St Helena, Kelly Village, Ibis Gardens and La Paille.

These villages are all south of the Caroni River.”

President of the Kelly Village Council David Looknanan speaks with reporters during a tour on Monday of damaged sections of the Caroni River embankment. PHOTO BY JEFF MAYERS – Jeff Mayers

He was joined by members of nine support groups from affected nearby villages – La Paille Village Council, La Paille Gardens Residents, La Paille LSA Residents, Frederick Settlement Residents, Caroni Village Council and Ibis Gardens Community Council. They have formed a group called Communities in Action.

He said in March, the group wrote to the ministry’s director of the Drainage Division and line minister Rohan Sinanan asking for a face-to-face meeting and site visit.

He said, “Up to this moment, there is nothing happening on the Caroni River at the southern bank. We haven’t gotten any reply from the minister, not even an acknowledgement from the director of drainage.”

He said residents are asking for remedial work on the embankment near their homes, which couldn’t protect them from the rains and flooding last year. They asked for the ministry to authorise long-term dredging and river embankment repairs.

For the dry season so far, Looknanan said he has not seen any work done on the Caroni River. He said with the rainy season so close, he is pleading with the relevant authorities to meet with residents and comfort them.

“There is something that can be done. If there is some kind of embankment that can be done, I mean, the engineers can work that out.

“In all of these villages, we’ve had engineers come individually and they took shots and videos, but out of this we haven’t seen any work being done.”

Christopher Rodney, a resident, said he wants to avoid flooding in the settlement like that which occurred last year and doesn’t want to resort to burning tyres for government intervention.

Rodney said, “It is imminent that something like this will happen again because we are seeing the weather pattern and it is getting worse every year. Three days of rain and the river was topped.”