In early September, the Piparo mud volcano became active, causing huge cracks in the surrounding areas and damaging the roads and homes nearby.
Since then, residents have been appealing to chairman of the Princes Town Regional Corporation Gowrie Roopnarine as well as Henry Awong of the Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo Regional Corporation to fix the roads so they can evacuate the area if the volcano erupts.
The Disaster Management Unit (DMU) has given residents an emergency evacuation plan. but very little work has been done on the roads leading out of Piparo.
While they are being told they may have to evacuate, residents complained that the access roads are deplorable.
Roopnarine said he is totally disappointed with Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan and Local Government Minister Kazim Hosein.
“One month ago we asked for 20 tons of hot mix to repair the Piparo Main Road affected by the volcanic reactions and to this day we have not gotten any materials,” he said.
Hosein visited Piparo and called Sinanan while he was there, asking Sinanan to visit the area and have work started on the roads. Sinanan had promised it would be a priority, given the warnings by experts that an eruption is imminent.
This promise, Roopnarine said, never materialised.
There are 11 families in the Pancho Road and Robinson Hill area, he said, who will need to evacuate their homes immediately in the event of an eruption.
Roopnarine said training sessions on evacuating and dealing with natural disasters were held at the Piparo Community Centre. Evacuation maps were posted throughout the community and announcement vehicles have begun making frequent passes through the community, in an effort to inform all residents of disaster preparedness measures.
The map outlines the evacuation route residents will take from Cipriani Trace and Pancho Trace (West) through the Piparo Road and onto the Guaracara-Tabaquite Road.
Seismic tests by senior geoscientist at Touchstone Exploration Xavier Moonan determined that the mud volcano could erupt at any time. Residents were warned to take precautionary measures to secure their lives and property.
Amir Mohammed from Piparo said since Hosein visited, no one else from the government had come to Piparo.
“Again these are promises from the government that never materialised,” he said.
Fidel Solomon, whose house was badly damaged, said he was promised a house by Hosein.
“The minister promised to raise my issue with Housing Minister Edmund Dillon, and it is now one month since my house was damaged and I have no place to house my family. We live on the mercy of friends and relatives,” Solomon said.
Representatives from the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) visited Solomon and said they would call him when they located a house for him.
“I got calls from HDC’s office saying they are working on a house in Golconda for me, but I have not gotten any confirmation as yet,” Solomon said.