Laurel V Williams
Freeport residents affected by Tuesday’s flooding are blaming improper drainage and inconsiderate “developers” who block watercourses to have “fancy properties.”
On Wednesday, the residents lamented that flooding has been happening for years. They are also calling on the authorities and residents to do their part to solve the issue.
At Calcutta No 2 Road near Kurban Junction, businessman Luiz Garib said it only takes about five minutes of rain for the road and his property to become flooded.
He owns Sporting Boys Bar and a straightening and auto paint shop.
“The floodwater was knee-high yesterday (Tuesday). People are not coming when it floods. The entire week, the bar was closed because of the weather. I have to constantly be spending money, paying people to clean because the water is very nasty,” Garib told Newsday.
“Drainage is a major problem. The drains are too small and are running in people’s yards. In six months, we had about 80 floods. This has been happening for years.”
Another affected resident, Marisa Mohan, also said flooding has been a recurring issue for years.
She, too, blamed poor drainage.
“For years I have been begging the authorities to redirect this drain. It is running through people’s properties.
“My entire house was flooded yesterday.”
Mohan lives with her three children, including a one-year-old baby.
“People are talking a lot of political propaganda. I have been lobbying to have this fixed. It is on the onus of everyone to clean their drain. I cannot go and force people to tell them to clean their drain.”
Couva South MP Rudranath Indarsingh visited the affected areas with Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo Regional Corporation chairman Henry Awong and other representatives. Mohan also shared her views with the team.
The opposition MP said he spoke earlier in the day with Rural Development and Local Government (RDLG) Minister Faris Al-Rawi about helping the residents, including clearing watercourses.
“I asked for the redeployment of resources, mechanical and otherwise, through the corporation. He gave a commitment that it would be done,” Indarsingh said.
“If the law has to be applied to people who are running afoul, I am not going to stand in the way.”
He said the affected area includes parts of Calcutta 1, 2 and 3, Fair View Park and Beaucarro.
“Thousands of people are affected. That is why here should be declared a disaster zone. The ministry should have flood assessment done on time so that the Social Development ministry can support people who lost items and produce.”
At 12.13 pm, RDLG’s Facebook page posted photos of the affected area. An accompanying post said municipal police in San Fernando, Princes Town and Penal were mobilised to help.
CEPEP Ltd workers were also assisting with flood relief along with municipal police.
Balmain/Calcutta 2 councillor Arlene Solomon-Ramesar earlier in the day accused Al-Rawi of engaging in a “PR campaign” relating to his ministry’s nationwide cleanup exercise.
To Al-Rawi she said: “Come and join me here. Visit the residents who lost thousands of dollars’ worth of items yesterday, last week, and even the week before. Come and see what it is like to be in flood areas. This is the real thing.”
“Flooding has been continuous over the past few weeks due to the weather. I am all for the people, and it hurts to see the type of flooding knowing we have a central government.”