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Flooding at Woodland, Oropouche West, last Sunday.

GAIL ALEXANDER

“Completely unacceptable, Mr David – citizens must never accept flooding as the new normal!”

That’s the view of UNC Oropouche West MP Devendranath Tancoo regarding comments by Local Government Ministry official Jerry David that citizens must accept the occurrence of flooding and adapt to its devastating effects on their lives.

Tancoo, in a statement yesterday noted that in a recent media report, the Ministry’s Senior Disaster Management Coordinator David, said because of climate change and other factors, flooding has become a worldwide phenomenon.

Tancoo responded, “This is completely unacceptable! It is offensive to expect that citizens of Oropouche West must accept the Rowley’s government’s failures to clean and maintain the watercourses and to undertake overdue, critical infrastructural development. What is even more repulsive is the implication that this failure must be accepted as the new normal.”

“After five years, the government finally admitted that they had no plan to deal with flooding. Yet, four months ago, Minister Rohan Sinanan asked the population to vote for the PNM because they needed five years to eradicate flooding in T&T!”

Tancoo noted Sinanan told the population then that a consultant had been engaged “to make a comprehensive operational drainage plan from all the previous studies done”.

But he said it took government five years and billions of taxpayers’ dollars to decide to conduct what essentially is a review of existing drainage plans.”

Tancoo said Oropouche West, is a major river basin that acts as natural water drainage for areas as far as Moruga, Barrackpore through Siparia, Penal, Debe, La Romaine, Palo Seco, Palmiste, Fyzabad, Hermitage and Woodland.

“Rivers and their tributaries need continuous maintenance, sluice gates need to be repaired or replaced and pumps need to be installed. Yet for the past five years the level of geographical discrimination is astounding!

“While homes, gardens, businesses and roads are flooded, and thousands of lives are put at health and safety risks with the accompanying millions of dollars in losses, it was reported that five new pumps, which cost taxpayers $18 million remain in storage, unallocated by the Minister of Works.”

He said many residents are yet to receive compensation promised by the government for the massive flood damage they experienced each year since 2017.

Oropouche West, residents are further concerned various governmental agencies don’t appear to be communicating with each other. He added:

“Addressing flooding requires a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Works and the Ministry of Rural Development and Local Government. Perhaps right foot is not following left foot? While they play word games and cannot get their act together, constituents continue to have their lives thrown into turmoil whenever rain falls!”

“What else are we, overburdened beleaguered citizens supposed to adapt to? Increasing unemployment? Woefully inadequate healthcare? No water? Potholed roads? Rotting bridges? Astronomical taxes with no value for money? Totally unacceptable! “

“This callous disregard for the lives and livelihood of citizens including those in the new flood zones throughout the country, is highly obnoxious! We must never adapt to incompetence, corruption and mismanagement and to ask that taxpayers to accept this as normal is beyond reprehensible.”