IT took a protest at the Mosquito Creek, La Romaine on Tuesday to elicit a response from WASA that a steel structure will be removed from the Godineau River next week, seven months after it fell in.
A 36-inch diameter water line ruptured and the supporting steel structure fell into the river, cutting off the water supply, causing widespread flooding and affecting fishing,
In an immediate response, president of the South Oropouche Riverine Flood Action Group Edward Moodie, who joined dozens of protesters, said, “Promises sound good. Until the rack is removed, we will not be happy.”
In a release, WASA confirmed it has found a suitable contractor and work is scheduled to start next week.
WASA’s acting CEO Kelvin Romain apologised to those affected by the delay in removing the structures.
He said it was a complex job, particularly because of the sensitivity of the surrounding area, and WASA had to hire a contractor with the experience and qualifications to do the work safely and without undue harm to the environment.
“Unfortunately, this process took longer than we had hoped, but we are now able to have work commence.”
Adesh Singh, president of the Flood Action Group, said since construction of the Point Fortin Highway extension started, several minor tributaries of the Godineau River have been blocked.
Standing at the mouth of the river, he said this represents the only access and egress for fish and shrimp to spawn.
“When this is blocked and you have debris collecting against this, you impede that. You are limiting your livestock when you cannot have the fish come to spawn and breed.”
Alvin Hoseinee, president of the Woodland Fishing Association, said the debris left in the river had damaged several boats and more than ten fishermen have quit fishing full time, as it is no longer a viable option to earn a living.
In addition to affecting fishing, Singh said this area is a collection point for water from areas as far as Moruga, Princes Town, Lengua, Siparia, Fyzabad and Santa Flora, and the collapsed structure is blocking the river mouth.
Moodie blamed the blockage for the disastrous flooding in Woodland, Penal, Debe and some parts of Barrackpore last November.
With an early rainy season predicted for 2023, he said if this is not repaired immediately, he foresees a worse disaster for those affected areas.
President of the Fyzabad Chamber Anjanie Jairam said flooding always affects business, yet those same businesses, with less resources, are called upon to help during disasters.
She said she has been lobbying councillors and MP for Fyzabad Dr Lackram Bodoe to have WASA resolve the issue.
Bodoe raised the contentious issue on a United National Congress (UNC) platform in his constituency on Monday night and intends to raise it in Parliament again on Friday.
Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales said he will respond in detail then.
In the meantime, WASA has advised of a planned shutdown on May 18. It said this is to complete the installation of an additional standby pump set at the South Oropouche Booster and to instal a rubber gasket on the recently installed 36-inch Godineau pipeline, which has sprung a minor leak as a result of slippage due to natural settling.
The additional standby pump set at the South Oropouche Booster will reportedly improve the reliability of the water supply in southwestern areas including Siparia, Penal, Fyzabad and neighbouring communities.