Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 22nd 2017 Contents A12 news
guardian.co.tt Thursday, June 22, 2017
Unscrupulous developers a
big problem, says Sinanan
Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Si-
nanan yesterday gave the assurance that the
entire island would have been cleared from the
effects of Tropical Storm Bret by last evening.
Sinanan made the promise during his tour to
flood-stricken areas in Sangre Grande and environs.
He said the solution to the flooding was to have
the North Oropouche River mouth and other rivers
in Trinidad dredged wider to facilitate the run-off
of flood waters at a faster rate. He said the ministry
was currently on a drive to dredge the countries
rivers and clear drains.
Sinanan said a lot of unplanned development
takes place along the east-west corridor, adding
some developers were operating without proper
approvals, which was illegal.
"The thing about it is the infrastructure we have
on the island caters for a certain amount of devel-
opment," Sinanan said.
"A lot of developers, what they do in order to
cut time, they do not wait for approval and begin
to develop the lands. We will definitely look at this
seriously now, because it is posing a serious chal-
lenge going forward."
He said most likely, developers will be asked to
put in retention ponds and have proper drainage
in order to get approval certificates.
He added, however, that Bret brought a different
challenge by itself.
"This disaster we faced, which is not normal,
we had a storm, so I don't think our infrastruc-
ture could have handled the capacity of water in
any case. But too often when we have showers we
have flooding," he said, noting some of it was due
to unscrupulous developers.
Asked about how prepared the was for Bret, he
said they had equipment lodged in every region
early Sunday morning and was able to clear fallen
trees and roadways quickly after Bret's passage.
Sinanan publicly thanked his employees who
came out to help out and authorities for being
proactive during the relief effort.
Although he could not meet the villagers at
Lemong, Fishing Pond, Sinanan ordered CEPEP
and URP bosses to immediately deploy workers to
assist villagers of North Oropouche and Lemong
in the clean-up process.
He also ordered that food, water and other basic
items be taken to the villagers who were still ma-
rooned at Lemong.
Chairman of the Sangre Grande Regional Cor-
poration Terry Rondon promised relief to Lemong,
noting that a high-wheel vehicle will also be sent
to take the school children to and from school from
Kazim Hosein says he intends
to meet with chairmen and
mayors of regional corpora-
tions to remind them of their
duty to monitor building de-
velopments in their commu-
He made the comment as he
expressed shock at some of the
structures he saw on a visit to Pe-
nal-Debe on Tuesday and plans
to remind corporations that un-
der the Municipal Corporations
Act, they must ensure building
codes are adhered to.
Hosein said the cutting of hill-
sides, building on river banks and
structures built in ways that are
unsafe were all areas of concern
he plans to raise.
"We need to get Town and
County, the regional corporations
and engineers in corporations in-
volved," he said.
The minister saw first-hand
poorly constructed houses with
roofs blown off and others which
were precariously built.
He also witnessed the plight
of a pregnant woman, Ramrajee
Chance, whose one-bedroom
house was built on the edge of
a lagoon. Hosein's concern was
shared by Housing Minister Ran-
dall Mitchell, who said: "Regional
corporations have the power to
cause someone to halt putting up
a structure that is not in keeping
with the building codes, but there
is no proper monitoring."
Apart from the illegal struc-
tures there is another problem,
Mitchell said. "Our drainage
systems are built for the nor-
mal, usual slightly above average
With Bret we had a tropical
storm pound the country. It has
passed and has left peripheral
effects. We would have experi-
enced way above average rainfall
and wind speeds."
But chairmen of two regional
corporations badly affected by
Bret said their hands were tied
and there is little they can do to
stop illegal buildings.
Sangre Grande Regional Cor-
poration chairman Terry Rondon
said: "This has become a free for
all. Many times you will pass and
see land empty, by next morning
you see an illegal structure with
Asked why the corporation did
not take a more proactive stance
on the matter, Rondon said they
try "but they continue to put up
structures and when you come to
break it down is another matter,
which involves going to court."
Penal Debe Corporation
chairman Dr Allen Sammy said
corporations have little or no au-
thority when it comes to illegal
"The only authority we have
is to issue a show cause notice.
The squatter has two weeks to
show cause why they are build-
ing. After that two weeks you can
issue a stop work,but the reality is
that squatter structures are built
in 24-48 hours, by the time you
issue a stop work the structure
is already up and to take it down
involves going to court."
Sammy added: "This is a na-
tional problem and we are part of
the national landscape.
Unless there is a national policy
giving lines of authority to corpo-
rations and other agencies there
is nothing you can do."
Addressing the problem of
squatting requires an integrated
approach involving state agencies
and the private sector, he added.
Bret causes landslides in Mamoral
Two families living on brink
Two families are now
scared they will lose
everything, as their homes
are on the brink of collapse
following a landslide on
Tuesday morning during the
passage of Tropical Storm
Bret. One family has nine
children, while the other
Both families were visited by
officials from the Couva/Tab-
aquite/Talparo Regional Cor-
poration (CTTRC) yesterday
morning and told they will be
assisted accordingly, although
they were not told how soon that
In the interim, the families are
praying to God that their homes
will not "fall flat."
Speaking with the T&T
Guardian yesterday, Mervyn
Ragoonanan, whose wooden
and galvanized home is located
on a hill, said he felt the earth
moving from under him around
2 am Monday as rains and winds
pounded the hillside. Within
seconds he said his house shifted
on the brink of going downhill
on top of his brother Devanand
Devanand recalled that in the
few minutes leading up to the
landslide, "it was very scary be-
cause the breeze was so strong
all around us and at about 2 am
we had to scamper out of the
house for safety when we heard
a rumbling sound and felt our
house moving downhill. The
earth just started to come down
on our house. It was cracking
and shaking and we had to run
out for our lives."
Mervyn said he feared one
more shower would bring to-
tal destruction. "When I heard
that the storm was coming I had
some of our children move out
to the homes of other relatives.
I have nine of them, the oldest
is 26 and the youngest is three,"
he said. Devanand's wife, Annie
Bahaw, said they are now liter-
ally living on the edge.
"The land is pushing our
house and we had to raise up
one of the flooring so that in
case the land continues to slide
and pushes down the partition
it will fall under. All our clothes
are soaked. My children's books
and school uniforms are also de-
stroyed as a result and currently
they have exams going on and
they cannot even go to school,"
"We need some kind of help
urgently. It is very frightening.
We can't even sleep because
we have to keep looking out for
if our houses are going to col-
A neighbour over the road to
the Ragoonanans, mother of two
Giselle Ramkissoon, also called
for assistance for foodstuff ,as
everything was soaked in the
"I don't have anything much
but my vinyl gone through and
everything in my house water
damaged. I need any kind of help
that I can get right now."
Another man from Mamor-
al No.2, Michael Matthews,
pleaded for building materials
to help rebuild his home, which
was completely blown away by
the strong winds.
"I home. I live alone and just
like that my house blow away
and leave me right there. All I
want is help for little ply wood
and galvanize to build back, I
don't want nothing else," Mat-
thews told the T&T Guardian.
Regional Corporation (CTTRC)
chairman Henry Awong said the
situation in Mamoral was "too
dangerous" for his corporation
workers to go in, adding he had
requested urgent aid from the
T&T Fire Service (TTFS).
"We are still waiting for the
Fire Service to come help us
out and advise us accordingly.
At Mamoral, part of the road has
also collapsed and our workers
and not trained enough to go
in there and face the situation
there because it is very danger-
ous," Awong said.
Awong, who was still on the
ground up to late last evening,
said assessment of damage was
still ongoing and so far they had
had reports of 29 fallen trees,
62 roofs either blown away or
damaged, 65 reports of homes
flooded out, five fallen walls and
Devanand Ragoonanan, left, and his brother Mervyn look at the landslide which is threatening their
home at Mamoral #1. PHOTO: RISHI RAGOONATH
Melissa Saligram of Lemong, Fishing Pond relaxes
in her father's boat yesterday, as their home is still
surrounded by flood waters after Tropical Storm
Bret. PHOTO: RALPH BANWARIE
We can't stop squatters
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