St Augustine MP Khadijah Ameen has slammed plans to transform Nelson Mandela Park into a ‘Public “Wellness and Sports Tourism Hub” while several arms of local government are ‘starved’ of funding.
Ameen argued that the limited release of funds to various regional corporations adversely affected the response to last week’s flooding in South.
“Regional corporations are being systematically starved. There is a continuous suppression of funding,” said Ameen during the Opposition’s weekly press conference at the Office of the Opposition Leader at Charles Street, Port-of-Spain, yesterday.
“Even though the regional corporation has an allocation approved in the budget, approved by Parliament. The Minister of Finance and Minister of Local Government have been refusing to release this money to the regional corporations to do the work that is necessary. We have at present in Penal/Debe Corporation, a corporation that has no funding to even buy fuel, to buy diesel for the vehicles to go out and do routine maintenance work within the region. A region that is hard hit and was tremendously affected during the last few days with flooding,” said Ameen.
Flood waters in Penal took days to subside after heavy midweek rain. In light of these challenges Ameen was bemused by the recently announced plans to renovate the St. Clair park with an astroturf playing area.
“Meanwhile in the Port- of- Spain City Corporation, they are considering a 20 million dollar project to put AstroTurf in our park in Port- of- Spain, in spite of objections, from residents,” said Ameen.
She added: “I call on the Government to immediately, make funding available to regional corporations, they are responsible for disaster management. They are responsible for the maintenance of water courses.”
Ameen was also critical of Government’s policy with regard to disaster management, as she noted that several families who had been affected by flooding or suffered damage to their home to adverse weather had barely received assistance or limited contact with the self help commission.
“It is important to restore people’s lives soon. After a disaster, the disaster units seem to be underfunded were also, what is missing is guidance, policy guidance and the face of the COVID-19 and already protocols, the disaster management units will require policies to protect the staff as well as to protect citizens. And I don’t think the Government has really been forthcoming with guidelines and support and resources for the Disaster Management Units that allow them to respond in the way that they should,” she said.