Residents protest the deplorable road conditions along the San Francique Main Road, Penal, on Saturday.

There is no geographic discrimination in repairing landslips.

This was the word from Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan, as he spoke at a media conference where several technical experts from the Highways Division, Programme for Upgrading Road Efficiency (PURE) Unit and the Bridges, Landslips and Traffic Management (BLT) Unit sought to buttress his claim by providing an update on repairs across the country.

There are 406 landslips across T&T, 76 per cent of which are in central and south Trinidad.

However, according to the ministry’s Deputy Permanent Secretary Navin Ramsingh, that number continues to increase with new landslips developing each year.

Ramsingh said there are eight factors that have been identified as the causes for landslips in the country.

He said these included: construction history of roads; deforestation; climate change and water, whereby rainfall and leaks from WASA lines reduce the friction resisting gravity of the soil.

“Quite often, our roads are plagued with numerous water leaks and associated deteriorating road conditions caused primarily by WASA’s failure to carry out timely and effective road rehabilitation. WASA has indicated that waterlines that serve residents who have constructed their homes on hills experience a pressure higher than normal and this, together with the age of the pipe and other factors, contribute to frequent leakages,” Ramsingh explained.

He also said improper drainage from privately owned properties have also been contributing significantly to landslips and advised people to seek advice from qualified geotechnical engineers before the construction of their properties.

Head of the BLT Unit Mahadeo Jagdeo said repairs continue on a phased basis based on the availability of funds, emphasising that it is very expensive to carry out such works.

“Given the magnitude of the backlog and the emerging priorities that emerge each day, only the most critical landslips can be given priority. Under phase one, we would have dealt with about 28 landslips and under Phase 2, which is currently being designed, we have 68 landslips under that phase.”

Responding to protests last weekend by Penal residents over landslips at La Fortune Pluck Road and San Francique Main Road, Jagdeo said these are also under the unit’s radar.

He said, “The first landslip at San Francique Road, a contract was awarded for that in 2014. However, due to continued non-performance by the contractor, we had no choice but to terminate that contract and subsequent to that, through NIDCO, would have repackaged the remaining works, re-tendered it and gotten a preferred contractor for the works. We would have also gotten the requisite approvals and funding in place to complete those works. We are advised by NIDCO that hopefully, by the end of November the contract will be awarded.”

As for the other landslip he said, “In October 2020, we awarded a contract to commence the design for that landslip. At this point in time, we have received the tendered documents and we are currently reviewing those tender documents. Once we have concurrence on the tender documents, we would issue that contract, hopefully, no later than the end of November.”

Sinanan noted that most of the repairs on landslips are being carried out in Central and South, thereby rubbishing claims by UNC MPs

He said, “Seventy six per cent is from the Central and Southern range, so if there is discrimination, then you would have found that 76 per cent of the landslips might have been in the North.”

Ramsingh noted that the Town and Country Planning Division will implement a policy for development in the southern region of Trinidad similar to that of the existing Hillside/Northern Region Policy. He also suggested that the authors of the Trinidad and Tobago Small Building Code should make amendments to it to specify the standards for construction on expansive clays.