Works and Infrastructure Minister Rohan Sinanan , left, and Drainage Superintendent with the Drainage Division Patterson Dick,look at the output of the pump, where the overflow was pumped into the Cunupia River at Cacandee Road, Felicity, yesterday.

Shastri Boodan

People who engage in unplanned development should face the brunt of the law.

Works and Infrastructure Minister Rohan Sinanan said so yesterday as he addressed the media while at the opening of a flood control pump on the banks of the Cunupia River at Cacandee Road, Felicity, Chaguanas.

Sinanan said unplanned development was contributing immensely to the level of flooding in T&T.

He said, “We have to do much more enforcement, because what you do, you displace the water when you do that (referring to unplanned development) and once you displace the water, you create flooding in a different area, when the entire area was allowed to pond and spread out , now as you full you bring the water to one point.”

He said flooding costs the tax payers millions of dollars in grants and foreign exchange to replace lost items.

The minister said his ministry has been dealing with cases in south Trinidad where people are backfilling watercourses to get an additional three to four feet of land.

He said enforcement is necessary because any infrastructure put in place to mitigate flooding would prove futile unless unplanned development is halted.

He said the Attorney General’s office is looking into fines for errant land developers.

He added: “The enforcement, especially by the local authorities, has to kick in now.”

Sinanan said the project to get the pump running in Felicity began in 2013 and was reviewed and upgraded in 2016. He said the pump is electrical starting and would be able to push water at the rate of 100,000 gallons per minute.

He said the pump starts automatically and does not need an individual to monitor it and fill it with diesel, which was the case with the old one.

The minister said the facility cost $11.2 million. He said five pumps would be installed in other areas and eight would be installed in the next financial year.

He said the drainage division has targeted 400 programmes that were divided into four phases in Trinidad.

Sinanan said most areas are in Phase Three while Phase Four is expected to be completed shortly.

He said desilting of rivers were a part of this programme. However, he said the onset of the COVID-19 restrictions delayed the programme.

When asked if the timing of handing over the pump was political, Sinanan asked if he should hold back the pump until after the upcoming general election.

He said the pump was handed over recently by the contractor and had to be commissioned in the shortest possible time.

When asked if he was contesting the Sangre Grande seat Sinanan said, “You never could tell, Sangre Grande is open.” However, Sinanan said he is on the selection committee and did not seek any nomination.

Chaguanas mayor Vandana Mohit welcomed the pump.

She said the pump would bring much needed relief to the people of central Trinidad.

She said burgesses have been calling requesting their drains be cleaned. The mayor said work is expected to start next week at the Cunupia River and the Dyette Estate Rivers.

She said the Chaguanas Borough Corporation would be using its light equipment to clean various channels with priority being placed in areas as Mostrose, Endeavour, Enterprise and Cunupia. She said manual cleaning teams will also be dispersed to clean minor watercourses.