THE EDITOR: The rains are here and again disastrous flooding is expected, all over the country, because of excessive littering and aging drainage infrastructure. Just look at what happened in Port of Spain recently after a few hours of rain. Plastic bottles and other debris were strewn across the streets after the water subsided.
Neville Wint, head of the ODPM, points to the “cultural issues” of littering and indiscriminate dumping which contribute to the flooding problem by clogging drains and waterways. But he assures the public that on a scale of one to ten, the State is at around a level eight in its readiness to handle a major natural disaster. He however conceded that a level eight could be reduced to a level two based on the severity of the disaster.
What does this mean? That as citizens we should expect to go through this every year? And not only in low-lying areas where some flooding might be expected in the height of the rainy season but rather all over the country because of the littering, aging drainage infrastructure and approved/unapproved hillside property development? But not to worry, the ODPM is ready.
How many people remember the Drive Charlie Away campaign in the 1980s? It created an awareness and played on the subliminal, including mine’s and that of my children who were still at school at the time, that you should not litter. That was 40 years or nearly two generations ago. Whatever happened? Politics?
How many citizens can recall that since 2013 an IDB loan of US$120 million was approved to mitigate flooding in Port of Spain? It was to support the improvement of catchment management through the implementation of drainage infrastructure, comprising interceptors, detention ponds, pumping stations etc. It also included all institutional arrangements necessary to support the creation of an independent authority working jointly with the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources that could build, operate and maintain all of the existing and future drainage infrastructure in the country. Whatever happened? Politics?
How many remember that since the early 1970s there have been numerous reports on land development in the Maraval Valley highlighting the need for proper planning and regulating of housing developments because of the potential flooding problems that could result from unplanned developments. Whatever happened? Politics?
Now there is more old talk about readiness for disasters and flood alleviation. Well maybe it’s time we drive the politics away and deal with the problems once and for all. I believe the IDB loan is still available.
RICARDO LIJERTWOOD via e-mail