MINISTER of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan wants to know who gave permission for a Gasparillo resident to build, in a river, a massive wall which diverted a water course resulting in major flooding last week Thursday.
Several homes in Gopaul Avenue and Ragoobar Lands were inundated with unprecedented flood waters as much as four feet in height.
Sinanan has initiated an investigation with a view to tearing down the wall and holding those responsible to account. He said the chief technical officer in his ministry will lead the investigation.
Tabaquite MP Anita Haynes said she was told permission was given to the owner to construct the wall. However, Sinanan said it is his understanding that the Ministry of Works' drainage department in San Fernando, which is responsible for the water course in that area, gave no such permission.
Resident Sheriff Mohammed, who has lived in Ragoobar Lands for 38 years, said it was the first time water came over a four-feet wall which secures his property. He recalled, when the wall was being built in the watercourse several years ago, he saw ministry officials and a former MP viewing the construction.
Sinanan said if any breaches are found, legal action will be sought to treat with this matter.
“We are working with the Ministry of Planning and the different regional corporations and we are now ramping up the enforcement in these areas.”
Sinanan and a team of technical officers visited the area on Saturday after a request was made by Haynes.
He later told the media that there has been some unprecedented flooding, not only in South but in Lopinot/Bon Air and in Maloney where he also visited on Saturday.
“It is easy to say we did not clean watercourses, but the flooding you are seeing has nothing to do with that.”
He said it had to do with individuals blocking the watercourses and narrowing the passage.
“The watercourses are clear. In excess of 400 desilting projects were done this year throughout TT. The way the rain is now falling, where you have a major downpour concentrated in certain areas, blockage of channels does not help.
"We have a lot of flash flooding. Flooding has a lot to do with capacity of the channel and the volume of rain we get at any point in time.
“While we work on these problems in the short, medium and long term, we need the support of citizens not to block water channels or divert water courses.
“Unfortunately, when these things happen, entire communities suffer.”
He said his ministry intends to use the law and enforcement to treat with these issues. He said individuals who breached the codes will also be held responsible for damage to properties.
Noting that people are continuing to build homes along watercourses in areas like Penal and on the Guaracara river, Sinanan said this is a cultural problem which started decades ago.
He said the ministry in now looking at a major programme with the Andean Development Bank to widen existing channels and treat with pond water in certain areas.
While it is a long-term project, Sinanan said the land which is now occupied by people on the river banks will have to be reclaimed.