Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 18th 2017 Contents news A5
Saturday, February 18, 2017 guardian.co.tt
Broken water main causes traffic gridlock
A ruptured Water and Sew-
erage Authority (WASA) un-
derground main caused huge,
water-filled depression on
Beetham Highway near the
Port-of-Spain lighthouse yes-
terday, resulting in traffic grid-
lock for several hours extending
as far back as Chaguanas in cen-
tral and St Augustine in the east.
The Ministry of Works and
Transport yesterday sent out an
advisory informing the public of
traffic in the area. Angry and up-
set commuters and motorists took
to Facebook to express their frus-
"I just came out of this traffic for
two hours plus. What a --- morn-
ing I just had," Giovanna Lake wrote
Videsh Sieuraj wrote, "Its quite
horrible, one lane only before the
Parmala Soogrim said, "I just
came out of three hours of traffic."
The number of people coming
into and going out of the city dai-
ly could run into the hundreds of
thousands, former Transport Min-
ister Stephen Cadiz said, giving an
idea of how many people might be
"The daily commute on the Pri-
ority Bus Route (PBR) is just short
of 200,000. It could be another
60,000 coming in on the highways
and this is not including all the peo-
ple coming into Port-of-Spain from
the Western Peninsular, Santa Cruz
and Maraval," he said.
Public Utilities Minister Fitzger-
ald Hinds, at a press conference
yesterday, said the leak started
Thursday night and a WASA crew
worked on it but it got worse by yes-
terday morning. From as early as 5
am there was traffic heading into
the city as three lanes of vehicles
were converged into one.
In September 2012, a sinkhole
appeared near the lighthouse and
cost $6.7 million to repair after a
contract was awarded to Jusamco
Pavers Ltd. Then Works Minister Dr
Suruj Rambachan said it occurred
after WASA did underground repair
WASA's public relations of-
ficer Daniel Plenty said the
new depression was not asso-
ciated with any previous leak.
Both WASA and the Ministry said
their in-house crews would carry
out repair works at minimal cost.
Works and Transport Minister
Rohan Sinanan said two of the three
lanes heading west were closed off
as a WASA crew temporarily placed
a steel sheet over the hole. As soon
as this was completed all three lanes
were expected to be reopened, he
To help alleviate traffic incon-
venience, the Priority Bus Route
(PBR) was opened to the public
until 6 am today.
Sinanan said WASA was expect-
ed to continue further work on the
depression later in the night when
there was less traffic. By this morn-
ing (Saturday), the leak was expect-
ed to be fully repaired, he said.
"It's not an expensive job, not like
couple years ago," he said.
Cousins, friend charged with gang rape, buggery
Violent accused curse, spit at media
After cursing and spitting at
journalists outside the San Fer-
Mohammed, one of the three men
charged with gang-raping a San
Fernando cashier, begged to be
sent to the Maximum Security
As Saddiq, 24, his cousin Shiraz
Mohammed, 23, both of Woodland
and construction labourer Brandon
Basdeo, 23 of Penal, were being led to
court, they began behaving in a rowdy
manner while attempting to hide their
faces from the cameras.
A couple outside the court was left
traumatised by the men's action, as
the woman said she was almost spat
on.Saddiq even attempted to push over
a senior police officer as he left the
San Fernando CID and threatened to
"kick down" the cameramen.
As relatives of the accused gathered
in front the court, a woman was seen
crying while the man who stood next
to her also uttered threats and exple-
tives to journalists.
Despite the aggression shown out-
side, it was complete change of per-
sonality for Saddiq inside the court.
In a more mellow tone, he appealed
to Senior Magistrate Nannette Forde-
John not to send him to the Remand
Prison, at Golden Grove, because his
life would be in danger.
Raising his hands for attention,
Saddiq said, "Ma'am, if I am going
to jail I would like to go MSP, because
my brother had a matter with a pris-
on officer...If you send me to Arouca
(Remand) prison, I could lose my life.
I just told you about my story ma'am,
He said that his twin brother had
an altercation with a prison officer
recently and he feared reprisal at the
He said he could not afford an at-
torney. He told the court that having
been released from prison five months
ago, he was being framed by the police
with the charges. He also asked if the
two other matters he had before the
court could be heard immediately, but
his request was denied.
"I have nothing to do with this...I
being victimised by police. They are
giving me case after case."
Forde-John read the charges that
on February 11, at Hermitage Branch
Road, San Fernando, the accused car-
ried the 26-year-old victim away
against her will, had sexual inter-
course without her consent, sodo-
mised her, violently robbed her of a
Samsung phone valued US$300 and
a Nokia phone $300.
According to police reports, the
woman was standing near Skinner
Park, Cipero Street, when around 8
pm she entered a white Nissan Sunny
B-15. Three men, including the driver
were seated in the car. She asked to be
taken to Lord Street, San Fernando,
but the men took her to Gandhi Vil-
lage, Debe, where one of them struck
her several times with a firearm and
robbed her. She was then taken into
the bushes and raped.
Flashing police lights caused the
suspects to bolt from the scene, leav-
ing behind their victim in the bushes.
The woman crawled out of the
bushes onto the street where a resi-
dent took her to the San Fernando Po-
lice Station. Within a few hours, San
Fernando CID officers, Insp Gajadhar,
Sgt Ramroop, Cpl Nanan, PC Maharaj
and PC Ramdass arrested Saddiq and
Basdeo in Woodland and impounded
a car which was taken to the station.
On Wednesday, Shiraz was arrest-
ed outside the San Fernando Magis-
trates' Court after his appearance on
an unrelated matter.
Shiraz and Basdeo were represented
by defence attorneys Ainsley Lucky
and Martin Jadoonanan respectively.
Prosecutor, Sgt Cleyon Seedan
objected to bail against Saddiq and
Shiraz on the basis that they allegedly
committed the offences while on bail
for other matters. He said given the
seriousness of the offence, Basdeo
should also be denied bail.
However, Jadoonanan argued that
Basdeo had no previous convictions
or pending matters and was able to
secure a bail of $175,000.
Forde-John accepted the prosecu-
tion's request that Basdeo report to
the Penal CID every Tuesday, Thurs-
day and Saturday.
Shiraz denied the prosecution's
claim that he had three other court
matters. Lucky then asked the court
to adjourn the case until February 22,
so that his criminal record could be
The matters were adjourned to
Siddiq Mohammed, third from left, attempts to spit on cameramen while being escorted to the San Fernando
Magistrates' Court yesterday. Mohammed, Brandon Basdeo, left, and his cousin Shiraz Mohammed.
PHOTOS: KRISTIAN DE SILVA
Sinanan said the depression was
caused by a leak from an old under-
ground main and was one of several he
has had to deal with in the two and a half
months he has been in office.
"You don't pick up a leak until the
water comes to the surface," he said.
To prevent more such occurrences,
he has asked WASA for a plan to change
the underground line.
WASA TRAFFIC ADVISORY
In a release yesterday WASA
advised motorists and the general
public of a traffic disruption along
the west-bound carriageway of the
Beetham Highway, Sea Lots, as a
result of a broken 200-millimetre
"Temporary road restoration works
are currently being carried out to
facilitate the free flow of vehicular
traffic while repairs to the ruptured
pipeline will be undertaken from 9
pm tonight to 5 am Saturday," WASA
"During the period of repair, mo-
torists are advised to proceed with
caution in the vicinity of the work
site and obey the instructions of the
police officers on duty.
"The Authority apologises for the
inconvenience and thanks customers
for their patience and understanding."
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