Acting Director of the Town and Country Planning Division (TCPD) Clyde Watch says that in order to deal with chronic flooding, spatial information gathered so as to inform on the type of infrastructure needed to tackle the problem. Spatial data is information with direct or indirect reference to a specific location or geographical area.
“Spatial information in terms of where we have the most flooding, whether it’s next to rivers, near to natural resources in the area, where people live, what are the vulnerable areas? You can only capture that if you have a functioning, well managed data infrastructure system which is critical to resolving the issue of flooding,” Watch said.
Speaking at a press conference at the Eric Williams Financial Complex in Port of Spain, Watch said citizens should not build in vulnerable areas and specifically without permission from Town and Country. He said although the Town and Country’s main role is regulatory in relation to spacial development, the division is also responsible for approval of applications for proposed building plans, development and implementation of the national land use plan, monitoring and regulating unauthorised and illegal development within TT enforcement of the TCPD Act.
“Flooding is an issue we have been facing in TT for many years. Floods are cause by many reasons, poor land use practices, dumping in water courses, issue of demolition of the forest, these are just some of the reasons we have flooding in the country.” Watch said the ministry has a national development strategy which outlines in a broad way how the country should have spatial development.
He said if areas have been mapped that are vulnerable areas in their data system, chances are they would limit the degree of development in those areas to take place.
“It is really the indiscriminate development of land that is contributing significantly to what we see in the urban landscape these days. If I clear two acres of land on a slope in the Northern Range that corresponding volume of water will have to find a way down that hillside, and so to are in many jurisdiction developments of the flood plain within a certain distance of the channel is prohibited out right.”
“Mass demolition will take place to actually bring those regulations into a place where it is seen being effective. Our general public needs to start to assimilate the idea that ‘I may need to move to a saver place that is not prone to this degree of hazard.’” When asked if people are still breaking the law when it comes to building illegal structure around the country, Watch said they receive countless applications for developments and there are persons who abide by the law. However, he said once there are complaints, it will be referred to the Environmental Management Authority.