Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 17th 2013 Contents A5
Tuesday, September 17, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Angry villagers hurled bottles
at a police jeep, cracking the
front windscreen of the vehicle,
as two dozen police officers tried
to stop fiery protests from
spreading through the Prime
Minister s constituency of Penal
Five men, between the ages of
19 and 36, were arrested. Three
were charged for obscene lan-
guage, one for using insulting lan-
guage and another for malicious
damage of government property.
Police kept an all-night vigil at
Clarke, Lachoos and Penal Rock
Roads, Batchiya Trace and Smart
Avenue. The protests began under
the cover of darkness as residents
called for better drainage, upgrade
to the David Williams recreation
ground and better representation.
Old tyres were piled in different
areas in the villages and protesters,
including women and children,
scattered the tyres along the sides
of the streets.
Around 3 am, police caught
protesters off-loading tyres in
front of the recreation ground at
Smart Avenue. Some fled while
others began hurling bottles at
the jeep, smashing the wind-
screen, police said.
One villager, Patricia Daniel,
accused the police of pointing
their guns at the protesters.
"Three people got arrested. I
saw when they held the second
man. He was walking out the road
and they let him go down on his
knees, hands up in the air.
"I don t know if the residents
attacked the police, I hear that
somebody pelt the police jeep. I
wasn t there for that," Daniel said.
She said the police made some
of the protesters kneel on the
ground before searching them and
taking them away.
Asked why children were being
encouraged to take part in the
protests when that was a violation
of the Children Act, Daniel said
she did not know that was an
She said: "The children suffer-
ing too. The whole village sup-
posed to come out here tonight
but the police threatened us. That
is why a lot of the adults backed
Some of the children, who
appeared to be under 12, held up
placards which read: "Kamla stop
talking and start delivering" and
"fix the recreation ground now."
At one of the fiery blockades
at Lachoos Road, two youths tried
to drag a lighted tyre to stop a
passing driver but he drove on
the pavement and then sped off.
Football coach Tyrone Charles
accused councillors from the
Penal/Debe Regional Corporation
He said: "They not cleaning the
drains. They not picking up our
rubbish. I had to dig a hole six
feet deep in the ground to bury
He accused a councillor of dis-
crimination because they were
"not supporting the UNC. This
is unfair. We deserve better than
that," Charles said.
He said students from Penal
Secondary School, Holy Faith
Convent, Shiva Boys College and
the Penal Life Skills Department
used the ground.
Charles added: "We fed up. We
are like a clogged pipeline that
just burst. I am the coach for the
Under-13 team and we cannot
even train at nights because there
are no lights on the ground.
"The convent girls have to
change their clothes in the savan-
nah behind a shed. We want a
play park like all other play parks.
We want proper lighting. We can-
not even train because the lighting
system bad. They fixing up all
over the Prime Minister s con-
stituency but not here because
they saying we do not support
He said a basketball ring had
been put up at the ground but it
Contacted yesterday, former
councillor Shanti Boodram denied
discrimination allegations but said
the protests were politically moti-
vated and she had been meeting
with the residents regularly to
discuss their concerns.
She said lights were erected at
the recreation ground two years
ago but vandals sabotaged the
electrical panel box, stealing the
"We spent thousands of dollars
to fix it and in January this year
and they sabotaged the cables
again," she said.
She said basketball facilities at
the grounds also were stolen.
She promised that the regional
corporation would begin fixing
the toilet facilities and washrooms
immediately while the Sports
Company of T&T would work on
fixing the drainage around the
"It is sad when people will take a
crisis situation and turn it into a polit-
ical fare for their own gain."
So said Diego Martin Regional Cor-
poration chairman Anthony Sammy
during a news conference at the cor-
poration offices yesterday.
He was addressing claims by Mason
Street residents that the corporation
was inefficient in its assistance fol-
lowing flooding which devastated the
community last week.
The residents staged a fiery protest
on Sunday claiming neglect by the
He said the claims were false and
the protest was uncalled for. He said
as chairman he had always been at
the forefront in helping residents wher-
ever and whenever they needed help.
He added: "I try to get things done
as quickly as I can but in an orderly
"There must be proper record-keep-
ing and reporting to ensure the people
who are in need of help get that help.
It cannot be done in an ad hoc man-
Sammy said given the extent of the
damage cleaning and restoration works
would continue over the next few days
and may result in periodic disruptions
of some minor roadways. He said for
displaced residents, the shelter at the
Diego Martin Community Centre and
the corporation s disaster management
unit were closed off yesterday.
He said since Friday, the facility had
housed one family of seven, who were
assessed by the Housing Development
Corporation (HDC) and have now been
relocated to Oropune, Piarco.
Some Diego Martin residents
affected by Friday s flooding say
they have little hope that Govern-
ment will solve the flooding prob-
lem plaguing the area.
Their lack of faith is not in the
Government s ability but in its will-
"They know what to do," said one
Hillaire Street resident, as he extract-
ed the muddied passenger seat
through the door of his car.
"The river bank needs to be higher.
No matter how many people tell the
authorities to do something, they
just have not done it. They talk about
cleaning drains but cleaning drains
isn t the main issue. It is the river,"
Lower on Hillaire Street, another
resident, looked on as men worked
in his yard, trying to repair a wall
which was demolished by the force
of flood water.
He too said the drains in the area
needed to be widened and pointed
to a drain at the end of the street
which led to the Diego Martin River.
"The drain goes to the river but
really there is nowhere for the water
to go," he said.
About 50 metres away from that
house, water could be seen flowing
through the river channel. On a nor-
mal, sunny day, the water was almost
at street level, the resident said.
Ellis Hylegar said he was not hope-
ful that something would be done
but said all he wanted from Govern-
ment was for it to fix the drains.
"No government has done any-
thing before. It will rain again and
it will flood again," he said.
The clean-up process in the area
was almost complete. Mud and
debris have been washed off the
roads and residents have been given
mattresses, food cards and hampers
by the Diego Martin Regional Cor-
poration and the Ministry of Social
Near the water wheel in River
Estate, a homeowner watched trac-
tors and backhoes dig debris and silt
from the river.
With the prediction of more rain
to come over the next two days,
Office of Disaster Preparedness and
Management (ODPM) CEO Stephen
Ramroop says it is time for residents
to do more to help themselves.
"Everybody should have a disaster
plan at this point: The health sector,
private sector and residents," Ram-
roop said in a telephone interview
Protests in PM's
• Bottles hurled at police vehicle
• Five people arrested
Residents display placards during
protests in the Prime Minister's
constituency, Penal, early yesterday
morning. PHOTO: KRISTIAN DE SILVA
Construction Worker Derrick
Mondezia digs a trench for the
construction of a new wall
after massive flooding at
Tessera extension, Diego
Martin after floods last Friday.
PHOTO: MARCUS GONZALES
Flood victims wary
of Government help
Residents' claims false
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