Dry Season desilting project to cost $50-60m

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan, left, speaks with Nathaniel Nidkan, the ministry’s District Superintendent North, during the tour. PHOTO BY ROGER JACOB –

MINISTER of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan said it would cost between $50-60 million to conduct dry season desilting of major rivers and waterways to minimise flooding when during the rainy season.

He and officials from the ministry toured several desilting projects on Wednesday at water courses in several part of the east/west corridor.

Sinanan said the ministry has noted major plastics pollution in rivers and watercourses and this year, specific emphasis will be made to clear a “plastic island” in watercourses in the Malick area. He said plastic waste such as bottles, disposable plates and other items wash into the Malick outflow from the hills in Barataria as a direct result of human negligence.

Heavy equipment being used to clear a section of main watercourse in the Beetham which is choked with water lilies. PHOTO BY ROGER JACOB – 

This plastic pollution is a major blocker of waterways which in turn is a major cause of flooding.

In addition to cleaning, dredging and desilting works, the ministry will – where possible – widen drains and water courses in preparation for increased water flow during the rainy season.

He said due to low capacity of water courses and heavier rainfalls, it is becoming more difficult to manage annual flooding but the ministry is in the process of looking at a, “national drainage programme where we have engaged the Agricultural Development Bank and several international agencies to come up with a macro-plan for drainage for Trinidad.”

Sinanan said another part of the dry season desilting project would be the clearing of vast acreage of floating lilies in the Caroni River and in the watercourses in the Beetham which is another cause of blockage and flooding in the rainy season.

The cost of the project will be in the region of $50-60m and funds will be sourced from his ministry’s annual budgetary allocation.

Sinanan said contractors who will carry out the desilting and other ancillary projects will be sourced via the Central Tenders Board as a means of reducing cost since the company with the lowest bid will be chosen first.

Sinanan pointed to other infrastructural projects by his ministry which are in the works but which will take more than one year of ministerial budget allocation to get done.

He also pointed out that people are building illegal structures in and around water courses which is causing problems for workmen (both from the ministry and contractors) accessing areas earmarked for cleaning, dredging, desilting and widening.

MAN’S NASTY HABITS: Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan, left, watches the plastic pollution choking this section of the outflow of the Malick River near the Beetham Highway during a tour on Wednesday. PHOTO BY ROGER JACOB –

During the tour, the minister also touched on the issue of extra-heavy vehicles used in the transportation and construction sectors which have caused major damage to the nation’s road network and which also costs hundreds of millions of dollars to repair or rehabilitate.

“When you bring in extra-heavy vehicles you have to go through something called the National Transport Board and they give you a specific route (on which to operate these vehicles).”

Sinanan said he has asked the Transport Commissioner to look into this issue to ensure that owners and drivers of these extra-heavy trucks adhere to the rules by sticking to the routes outlined by the board.