Siparia Corporation ‘crippled’ by lack of funds

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Cedros councillor Shankar Teelucksingh, left, and Siparia Regional Corporation chairman Denish Sankersingh points to the damaged floor at their office at the Siparia Regional Corporation, High Street, Siparia. Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

Siparia Regional Corporation (SRC) chairman Denish Sankersingh has said there seems to be a deliberate effort by the Government to deny it funding.

This has stymied and disabled the corporation, Sankersingh said, preventing workers from delivering very basic goods and services such as garbage collection and street cleaning.

“The demand for our services has been greatly increased with the closure of Petrotrin and other issues. However, there has been a drastic reduction in the monies allocated by the central Government,” Sankersingh said.

“As a consequence, we are not able to fulfil our mandate. I am talking about local government here, which is the first step, the first interactive step between the citizens and the Government.”

Sankersingh spoke on Wednesday at a press conference at the corporation at High Street, Siparia.

He said SRC’s original allocation for fiscal 2022 was just over $79 million, and it got just over $71 million, with an outstanding amount of about $8 million.

“I am not talking about any extra funding. A lot of the oil the country earns revenue from comes from south Trinidad, and we are deliberately denied access to funding,” Sankersingh said.

“We have several vehicles that are down and cannot be repaired. We have not gotten a new vehicle in years.”

The head of the opposition-controlled corporation said SRC is one of the largest physical geophysical areas in TT and runs from Penal to Icacos.

Also at the press conference were Avocat/San Francique North councillor Doodnath Mayrhoo and Cedros councillor Shankar Teelucksingh.

The wooden floor in the corporation building near the chairman’s office was rotten. A sheet of wood and a table had been used to cover it up.

In November 2020, the Prime Minister announced that Siparia and Diego Martin Regional Corporation would become boroughs.

On the impending status change for Siparia, Sankersingh said, “Is it going to improve the quality of life for our burgesses? Is it going to help us to be able to deliver the goods and services, or is it just for a cosmetic change that does not benefit them?

“I want to be able, at the end of the day, to improve the quality of services, whether it be…garbage collection, street repair, vehicle repair, building repair, and basic services for the people.”

He added that flooding is also a major issue in the area.

“It is a sad indictment of the government of the day.

“But the corporation continues to struggle with our limited resources to deliver and serve the people effectively.”

Mayrhoo said the corporation owes money to several companies, 27 of which have blacklisted SRC and are no longer willing to supply any goods and services.

“Our outstanding bill to supplies is over $4.6 million. If we do not get the money now from the central Government, that debt rolls into the new financial year.

“That would erode what is allocated to us even before we get the money.

“We also have a shortfall on our recurring expenditure of over $4 million.”

Shankar raised concerns about insufficient staff.

“Most of the technical staff have reached retirement age. There is one road officer, and he is retiring next year. This shortfall is crippling the department.

“The financial officer sends notifications monthly, and the Government keeps promising to send the money. The budget is weeks away.”

Budget Day is September 26.