Flood action group: ‘Clean South Oropouche River’

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Edward Moodie, head of the South Oropouche Riverine Flood Action Group with residents at a protest. – File photo by Lincoln Holder

Edward Moodie, head of the South Oropouche Riverine Flood Action Group (SORFAG), is calling on the Works Ministry to clear the South Oropouche River to prevent widespread flooding in the upcoming rainy season.

In a video posted on social media, Moodie was in the river near the pumping station at the Tulsa Trace, Penal Picnic Site, where he showed what he said was the blocked river. He said the banks had previously been breached and this caused major flooding in the area, and attempted repairs to the waterway instead compromised it.

“The pressure they put on this bank with the heavy equipment had actually forced mud into the South Oropouche River.”

He said the weight of the machinery on the banks forced mud from under the walls into the river. This, he said, significantly raised the bed, preventing water from flowing.

“Just a few hundred feet away it (the river) is 12 and 15 feet deep. Right here, the boat is stuck right now.

“You cannot put that kind of heavy equipment next to the river and not expect the soft mud that has been here for hundreds of years not to find the area of greatest weakness and actually come up. This is what happened here, and it happened a little further down.”

Moodie said he sent videos of the issue to the contractor and the Works and Transport Ministry, explaining: “Debe and Penal are going to be washed out if this site is not cleared.”

“We are calling on the ministry: get your equipment inside here and clean this, because the water is going to back up. It is going to flood out communities.”

He suggested the authorities use a long-boom excavator to remove the mud buildup on the riverbed.

Penal/Debe Regional Corporation PDRC chairman Gowtam Maharaj told Newsday the river falls under the remit of the Works and Transport Ministry. However, he said, the PDRC will dispatch an engineer to assess the situation and will work with the ministry to rectify any issues that arise.

Newsday was unable to get a comment from Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan or the ministry’s corporate communications team up to publication time.