L to R – Member of Parliament for St Augustine, Khadijah Ameen MP; and His Worship Alderman Joel Martinez, Mayor of Port of Spain.

Member of Parliament for St Augustine, Khadijah Ameen MP, is calling on Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley to instruct the Mayor of Port of Spain to tender his resignation immediately, following widespread flooding in Port of Spain and environs on Tuesday August 3rd.

Significant flash floods left a trail of destruction across parts of north-western Trinidad following a thunderstorm yesterday afternoon.  Many roadways from Maraval to east Port-of-Spain were left blocked by a muddy mix of water, tree limbs, rocks and boulders, while many utility poles and lines sustained damage.

In addition, significant volumes of water flowed into the Cascade River in St Ann’s that leads into the St Ann’s River (commonly called the East Dry River) in east Port-of-Spain, as well as the Maraval River further west following a 45-minute period of heavy rainfall.

The St. Augustine MP, who functions as the Opposition’s Shadow Minister of Local Government, said in a strongly worded statement:

“Yesterday’s flooding in the capital city and the slow response of the Port of Spain Corporation is a clear indication that the Mayor does not have his priorities straight.”

MP Ameen referenced the Mayor’s recent decision to engage in a $20 million-dollar proposal for an Astro-turf project at the Nelson Mandela Park in Port of Spain, as evidence that they Mayor is not up to the task.

“The fact that the Mayor was only stopped in his tracks when the Prime Minister was embarrassed into addressing the matter in face of criticism from stakeholders and the Opposition that the Mayor previously refused to listen to, raised questions over his judgement in prioritization and local government leadership,” she observed.

MP Ameen also questioned the silence of the Minister of Local Government, whom she asserts had the power to release funding for important projects—such as flooding mitigation—but seemed to have chosen otherwise.

“The Minister of Local Government must have known of these plans and should have instead lobbied for more important projects to be done,” she argues in her statement.

According to the St Augustine MP, as is the case in other regional Corporations, “neglect of watercourses and failure to implement flood prevention initiatives has led to flooding even with smaller amounts of rainfall and millions of dollars in losses by residents, business owners and farmers.

She added: “Yesterday’s flooding in Port of Spain, Maraval, St. Ann’s and environs should be a wakeup call to the authorities that flooding does not occur because people ‘build houses in the lagoons’ or because of ‘squatting on riverbanks‘, as stated by PNM Ministers and local government representatives recently, but that funding for the maintenance and creation of water courses, pumps and retention pumps is critical.”

The Opposition’s Shadow Minister of Local Government maintains that “the PNM government is disconnected from the reality of the ground and so their priorities for funding are skewed.”

“In East Port of Spain alone,” the St Augustine says in her statement, “there is widespread poverty and persons in need of social assistance. The city has been plagued by vagrancy, poor garbage collection, poor facilities for vending, improper pavements, broken park benches, overgrown parks, lack of public toilets…”

“Port of Spain as the capital city deserves better leadership than an arrogant and incompetent Mayor.  Mayor Martinez must resign,” she said.