The current COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the Ministry of Works and Transport as numerous projects have been delayed.
This was disclosed by the Minister of Works and Transport, Rohan Sinanan during a media conference held on Friday.
“To no fault of the Ministry of Works and Transport or the Drainage Division,” Sinanan said.
Oropouche West MP Davendranath Tancoo is of the view that Sinanan is playing games with the lives of citizens in South Trinidad.
According to Tancoo, residents of Tulsa Trace, Pluck Road, Woodland and St John’s Trace and environs in South Trinidad are being forced to live in constant fear of floods whenever rain falls, and the damage of arable lands due to salt water intrusion during high tides.
This, he said, is because the Minister has failed to repair the flood gates in these communities despite being aware of the crisis and the significant damage and financial loss caused over the last few years.
“During rainy season, the damaged gates serve as a dam, preventing adequate runoff, trapping water behind it and causing water to back up and flood the surrounding areas. During high tide the reverse happens, whereby saltwater flows upriver from the Gulf of Paria bypassing the nonfunctioning gates, entering and damaging agricultural lands, crops and livelihoods of farmers. Pumps associated with these floodgates are also missing or nonfunctional adding to the already bad situation,” Tancoo said.
Tancoo added that when the issue was raised in February 2019, Minister Sinanan boasted that $30 million had been assigned to repair floodgates throughout Trinidad.
“I challenge Minister Sinanan to stop hiding and tell the country where this $30 million went because the gates have still not been repaired. Was the Minister lying to the population? Was the money not allocated? Was it spent on something else? Was there ever any intention to really fix these floodgates and pumps? This is taxpayers money and we deserve to know the truth!” Tancoo said.
Sinanan, in addressing Tancoo’s claims yesterday said that the Minister of Works was in attendance in the Parliament and would have addressed Tancoo’s questions.
“He was not doing what the taxpayers are paying him to do so he cannot make allegations that the Minister of Works is drawing his money under false pretence. He needs to come to Parliament to get his questions answered.”
Sinanan said that apart from the ministry’s Pumps and Gates Programme it does have several desilting projects going on including in the Oropouche West area.
It was also noted by the Director of Drainage, Paula Webber that the ministry has about 300 desilting programme projects to be done throughout Trinidad each year.
“In the first phase, 119 projects were earmarked across the four districts of the Drainage Division. In the Oropouche Lagoon area there are ten projects already programmed and of this ten, four projects have already been completed,” Webber said.