Former Mayor and Parliamentarian, Dr Suruj Rambachan (left), stands in front the growing pile of garbage at Bhim Street, Chaguanas. (Image: SHASTRI BOODAN)

SHASTRI BOODAN

The Chaguanas Borough Corporation has come in for some blows from a former Mayor, for its alleged failure to remove a mound of garbage at Bhim Street, Chaguanas.

Speaking with Guardian Media on Thursday 2 September 2020, Dr Surujrattan Rambachan, a former Chaguanas Mayor (and former MP for Tabaquite), said he was fed up with asking the Borough for assistance.

According to Rambachan, construction work was done on a lot located between Bhim Street and Ramsaran Street. He said the contractor left the rubble on Bhim Street about two months ago, and since then, the heap had grown into a dump, as indiscriminate persons began throwing commercial and household garbage on the spot.

“This has not only become an eyesore but a health hazard,” Rambachan said. “It is infested with vermin—rats and what have you. And it has become quite a horror for me and residents in this community where we live. I have been speaking to the Medical Officer of Health at the Borough who, unfortunately, seems unable to do anything about this. I indicated to him that all they need to do is take a backhoe and a Borough truck and remove it,” he explains.

“I am being told it’s the responsibility of the contractor to remove it. Now, while they go on with this battle between the contractor and the Borough, the problem remains right here and is getting worse.”

He added: “I think the Borough has an obligation to serve a notice upon the person who did this and to prosecute accordingly. You cannot be living in a community where you pay taxes and so on and have this type of service given to you.”

The former Chaguanas Mayor said the situation has gone beyond the stage of giving contractors warnings and queried why the Public Health Inspectors have not got involved in the case.  He lamented that many people seem to be using the COVID-19 situation as an excuse not to do their work.

“I have not seen Wendy Francis (the Councillor for the area); I can’t even put a face to her,” he told Guardian Media. “I contacted the office of the CEO. The CEO has not responded to my call although I left messages there on two occasions.” 

A disgruntled Rambachan stated: “The Borough is making excuses. The excuse is this—that the contractor is responsible, and that the Borough does not pick up this kind of waste. I say that is utter nonsense. It is either you are a responsible corporation, or you are not a responsible corporation.”

The Borough Corporation responds

When contacted for a comment, Mayor Faaiq Mohammed said a warning was issued to the offender.

“I contacted the Health Department in the Chaguanas Borough Corporation,” he confirmed to Guardian Media. “The open tray service is working along Ramsaran Street. However, they received a complaint from a resident. Upon investigation, the debris on the side of the roadway is from a construction site and the open tray service does not pick up that type of debris.”

He added: “The Litter Wardens have issued a notice of warning to the offender to comply by removing the debris.”

Meanwhile, Councillor Wendy Francis told Guardian Media that a complaint was made to the Public Health Department on 27 August 2020, reporting that rubble on Bhim Street had not been removed.

“The Litter Prevention Warden was sent immediately to investigate, and a Litter Removal Order was issued and served. However, the owner will have to get this removed as this is construction rubble,” she explained. “It can be removed either by paying the Corporation or paying privately for its removal.”

She added: “The member of the public who made the complaint agreed that following this process of serving the notice on the owner, is the best way to go. Although more time consuming, it can set an example for a Fixed Penalty Ticket to be served if not removed within the time frame of the Litter Removal Order.”

Councillor Francis notes that the Litter Removal Order usually expires within 14 days of its issuance. She confirmed that it is incumbent on the Litter Prevention Warden to follow up on the case.