Works Minister Rohan Sinanan (left), and Chaguanas West MP Dinesh Rambally at Gandhi Street, Caroni, on Wednesday 5th May 2021. (Image: SHASTRI BOODAN)

Encroachment on the Caroni Riverbank is causing problems for the Ministry of Works and Transport, preventing it from undertaking necessary upgrade and repair works, says Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan.

Minister Sinanan made the comment to Guardian Media on Wednesday, during his visit to the site of a broken sluice gate at Gandhi Street, Caroni.

The minister noted that apart from farmers breaking the riverbank for water, many persons building too close to the riverbank, making it difficult for the Ministry to get heavy equipment in. Minister Sinanan warned that his ministry would be working with the law enforcement authorities to stem the problem.

Noting that the Caroni River spans from Arima to Sea Lots and takes all the water from the East-West corridor out to the sea, the minister told Guardian that over the last three years, the government has done tremendous work on the river as part of a proactive approach to dealing with flooding.

“There is a major project ongoing on the Caroni River,” he said.  “It is the first time in 20 years. The project includes rebuilding of the embankment in various locations and the installation of pumps and sluice gates.”

Dinesh Rambally, the Chaguanas West MP, said he was pleased to see a proactive approach being taken to fix problems along the river.  He told Guardian Media that he had written to the Minister since last year, to start repairs along the river.

According to MP Rambally, if these problems are not fixed, not only would the 2,500 residents in the Caroni area suffer from flooding, but government establishments—as the License Office the Caroni Police Station that houses the K9 unit—would be hit. 

MP Rambally said the river rose over the last few days with the heavy rains.  He said residents attempted to adjust the sluice gate; however, the old gate was not operational. 

Minister Sinanan said he had requested divers to get into the waters to see what was taking place and how quickly the situation could be remedied. 

Meanwhile, Couva South MP Rudy Indarsingh, who also is a resident of Gandhi Street, said he expects the community to be flooded if the matter is not addressed.

MP Indarsingh said when the gates became jammed in the past, older residents in the community would dive to the bottom of the gate and resolve any problems.  However, he said those who did so have now passed on, and no one else is willing to take up the responsibility.