Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 31st 2013 Contents A7
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After scores of Debe residents spent Christmas
Day cleaning their flooded homes, Works and
Infrastructure Minister Dr Surujrattan Ram-
bachan has instructed the company overseeing
the $7.2 billion Solomon Hochoy Highway exten-
sion to determine if the project was responsi-
That came the day after Highway Reroute Move-
ment (HRM) leader Dr Wayne Kublalsingh blamed
Brazilian contractor, Construtora OAS, for blocking
the watercourse which left several areas along the
highway under water.
In an interview yesterday, Rambachan said the
National Insurance Development Company Ltd
(Nidco) was on top of the matter and he was
awaiting the findings from its consultants.
"We have very competent consultants on our
jobs who will be giving us their opinions on these
"I have asked Nidco to tell me what is happening
there and to get an opinion to me. I am onto these
matters and we will take a look at all matters
raised by citizens because we cannot ignore the
voices of citizens," Rambachan said.
He declined to respond to the HRM s claim
that work at the Debe interchange caused the
flood, saying he would refrain from commenting
on the highway while Government and the HRM
were embroiled in a court battle over the high-
He added: "Dr Kublalsingh is entitled to his
own opinions. Kublalsingh s opinion is not the
only valid opinion. There are other opinions that
are valid and we are going to be looking at all
those opinions. Whatever action is appropriate,
such action will be taken.
"The Government never acts to the disfavour
of the citizens. The Government always acts in
relation to satisfy its clients and the main client
is the citizens."
When the T&T Guardian news team visited
affected residents at Debe Trace yesterday, many
of them complained that the flooding spoiled
their Christmas holidays.
There was no agreement on what caused the
flooding but all agreed further assessments should
be done to ensure the highway would not create
Recalling Christmas Day, mother of two Marlene
Mungal said her family was about to leave home
to visit an uncle when flood waters surrounded
In the end, she said, she and her husband spent
the afternoon with a pitchfork and shovel, digging
drains to prevent water from entering their home.
"I can t say what caused it but the only thing
I know is that it could be the blocking of the
"Two or three years ago we used to get floods
with water coming inside.
"I don t want that to happen again but seeing
how water had come up on Christmas Day, it
looks like it is going to happen again," Mungal
Her neighbour, Suruj Siew, was also stranded
inside his home with his wife and four children
as the water level had reached over three feet
deep in his yard.
"This is the biggest flood we had here for the
longest while. I don t know what is the cause of
it but it was just terrible," Siew said.
Showing stains on a wall left by the floods, he
said: "Somehow we got out the water but I don t
know what will be coming next.
"It did not come into my house but my house
was like an island because it s high up. Around
my house there was three feet or even more water
because there was a lot of rain."
He too was not sure what caused the floods
but remembered that excavators were doing work
near the river in Gandhi Village.
On whether the highway would bring excessive
flooding to the area, he said once proper drainage
was built, he did not see a problem.
Across the road, 74-year-old Leelawattee Har-
ripersad said the Penal/Debe Regional Corporation
simply had to fix the drain and clean it more
She said while the highway work could have
caused flooding in some areas, she did not believe
it caused the floods in Debe.
HRM member Elizabeth Rambharose, who lives
in the area, said a hydrology report should be
done before work continued on the Debe to Mon
Desir leg of the highway.
She said many residents were concerned about
the danger posed by that segment of the highway
but were afraid to speak out.
"I personally think that this flooding is because
of the construction of the highway. Since that
construction started, the flooding has increased
and as you see the drains are clear right now.
"There are no blockages and if some rain comes
automatically the flooding will rise.
"I think a proper hydro report needs to be done
in this area before any construction takes place,"
Police in the United
Kingdom have come
closer to solving the
death of 33-year-old
Joromie Lewis, who
died after accidentally
drinking from a bottle
of Cole Cold Pear-D,
laced with cocaine.
Yesterday, an article
in the Daily Mail online
Nidco to probe
edition stated five peo-
ple had been arrested in
connection with the
Lewis, an employee
at an import/export
warehouse, died on
December 5 shortly after
drinking from the bot-
tle.Pear-D is a pear-
flavoured drink manu-
factured locally by the
SM Jaleel company.
Police said laboratory
analysis showed the
bottle of Pear-D con-
tained a lethal amount
Shortly after Lewis
death the company,
which does not export
the product to the UK,
recalled drinks from the
batch containing the
best-before code "BB
JAN 08 14," which was
the date on the bottle
from which Lewis
Two men and a
Southampton and two
London men were
arrested and bailed on
Det Supt Dick Pear-
son said: "This is a
covering the circum-
stances surrounding Mr
Lewis death, as well as
Officers described the
incident as a known
used to bypass border
Lewis lived in
and was originally from
St Vincent and the
Though the police
said the cocaine-laced
drink was an isolated
incident, a UK Food
Standards Agency alert
for shops to withdraw
the drink has remained
Five held in UK
over Pear-D death
Geoffrey Cooper babysits his daughter's doll at the Feast of the Holy
Innocents service hosted by the Roman Catholic Church on the Brian Lara
Promenade, Port-of-Spain, on Saturday. PHOTO: BRIAN NG FATT
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