Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan is questioning the motive of persons responsible for a major arson attack on flood pumps in Bamboo Settlement #1.
Speaking with media personnel during a tour of the damaged remote pumping facility yesterday, Sinanan said: “The questions we should be all asking is who would benefit from something like this and why would someone want to do something like this?”
He explained before last week’s attack, the ministry upgraded the pump facility and flood gates in the flood-prone community and others located near the banks of major rivers, in anticipation of heavy rainfall for the remainder of the rainy season.
“What we are seeing here today is planned sabotage to ensure this area is flooded out during the rainy season,” Sinanan said.
He explained that according to reports reaching the ministry, the arsonists came to the facility and scared off the watchman by firing several gunshots at him.
While the watchman ran to the homes of residents, a short distance away, the arsonists used Molotov cocktails to set fire to two pumps and their intake lines. A third pump, which was not operational, was left untouched.
“Fortunately villagers came out and supported the watchman on the night and were able to at least salvage one of the pumps. We should be able to get that pump back up at a significant cost to the taxpayers,” Sinanan said.
While he estimated that it may take a month to repair the pump, he revealed that initial assessment from ministry staff indicated that the other may be beyond repair.
He estimated the cost of the damages to be between $300,000 and $500,000.
He stated that the ministry installed two temporary pumps at the location but noted that they can only have a pumping capacity of 8,000 gallons per minute as opposed to the 20,000 gallons per minute capacity of burnt out pumps.
He repeatedly expressed fear that the temporary pumps would be unable to cope with the volume of water which may accumulate in the area during periods of heavy rainfall.
“What people have to understand when they do these things for whatever motive, they are actually affecting thousands of residents,” Sinanan said.
Although he said that the ministry would be installing CCTV cameras at the site to prevent future attacks, Sinanan did not seem hopeful that it could be totally prevented.
“No matter what you put in place if people are hell-bent on mashing up the system they will find ways,” Sinanan said.
The arson attack on the pump station was highlighted by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley in his address at a political meeting in Belmont last week Thursday.
Rowley alluded to the fact that the arson attack and several other incidents of vandalism at State sites were perpetrated by agents associated to the United National Congress (UNC).
“Try and figure out who and why would anybody want to go and light four fires down in Bamboo #1 to burn out the pumps that extract water from Bamboo #1. Pumps that are meant to prevent the area from flooding.
“Who stands to benefit if Bamboo #1 is flooded? It has to be the people who make a speciality of flood politics,” Rowley said. The arson attack is being investigated by the T&T Police Service (TTPS).