Parents of students attending the Elswick Presbyterian Primary School on Naparima-Mayaro Road, Tableland, staged a peaceful demonstration outside the Moruga/Tableland constituency offices of Dr Lovell Francis to highlight the non-functional sewer system at the school.
Under dreary overcast conditions, which gave way to an intermittent spattering of rain, parents also vowed to keep their children at home until the sewer system had been changed from an aerobic system to a more conventional one.
An aerobic treatment system is a small-scale sewage treatment system similar to a septic tank system but which uses an aerobic process for digestion rather than just the anaerobic process used in septic systems.
Speaking to reporters during protest, Parent/ Teacher Association secretary Shelly Harripersad said the problem with the sewer system dated back to 2013.
“We have had repairs done every term, which just works for a couple of days and then it goes down,” Harripersad said. “Every year we are in this category where we go down. Sometimes a whole term our children are at home because it smells and the children get upset.”
“They complain of headaches, their uniform smells of sewerage so we have decided to keep our children at home until the Minister does something. What we want this time is not repairs again. We want a new system.”
Harripersad said they met Francis, who also holds the portfolio of minister in the Ministry of Education, last Thursday following a similar demonstration and he had promised the system would be pumped weekly until the Christmas holidays when the system would be changed.
She said the system had been pumped on Wednesday but, according to a school official, the system was refilling at a rapid rate despite no children being on the compound.
“Since school opened, we have had one week of school which they had pumped the system the Friday before school reopened, it only lasted that first week,’ she said. The school has a student population of 110 students.
“It has become a health hazard,’ she stated.
Meanwhile, in a post on his Facebook page, Francis said the sewer problem at Elswick Presbyterian has been a “recurring decimal of an issue for some time.”
He continued, “I promised members of the PTA that as an interim measure the system would be emptied as a pretext to finding a permanent solution. This has been completed. I will now move to ensure a lasting fix is implemented.”