PM denies 'ghosting' flood victims: 'I'm leading relief efforts'

Volunteers use pirogues to evacuate people from their flooded homes on November 28. File photo/Angelo Marcelle
Volunteers use pirogues to evacuate people from their flooded homes on November 28. File photo/Angelo Marcelle

THE Prime Minister has rejected opposition complaints of him not visiting flood-hit areas by saying he was running the entire country 24/7, unlike others playing politics in small boats at flood scenes.

Dr Rowley scoffed that he would leave "flood politics" to others. He explained his position in a reply on Saturday to queries by Newsday in response to statements by Couva South MP Rudranath Indarsingh in Parliament on Friday. Indarsingh accused Rowley of having ghosted the population during a debate as the Opposition chided the Government's response to flood victims over the past week.

The Opposition also raised a motion on the issue, getting responses from the Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan and Rural Development and Local Government Minister Faris Al-Rawi.

Lamenting floods and landslides, Indarsingh had said Rowley had once asked central Trinidad residents to give the PNM a chance in elections, but was not now visible. Indarsingh said, "As we toured from house to house, street to street, and community to community, the cry was common: 'Where is Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley?'"

The MP had accused Rowley of insensitivity to the downtrodden but availability to big business and to play golf with Sir Vivian Richards.

A file photo of the Prime Minister during a media conference at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann's in September. File photo/Ayanna Kinsale

"Now, in this time of national emergency and calamity, the Prime Minister, who bolted to the golf course with speed and fervour, slouches distantly, numbly, and cowardly, peeping from behind the curtains at Whitehall rather than courageously attending to his citizens in their time of crisis."

In response, Rowley told Newsday, "I am responsible for the welfare of all our citizens, in good time and in bad.

"I ensure that this responsibility is properly discharged. I leave the 'flood politics' to Indarsingh and the rest of the UNC who have nothing else to do but try and weigh the country down with their constant playing the victim as they seek out every opportunity to hear their own voices and look for the next photo op."

Rowley then appeared to criticise Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who made several high-profile visits to flooded areas when she was prime minister.

"Their idea of caring is to put a hapless leader in a little boat and pull her through the flooded street.

"I pass on that.

"My focus is to be part of the team that is available 24/7 to respond and manage the dangerous changing environment. That I did, and now we move on to the next phase of continuing the relief, repair and reconstruction."

On Thursday, the Government said Cabinet had authorised the release of $150 million to help repair roads, clean rivers and compensate farmers and homeowners who fell victim to floods.

A total of $100 million was allocated for urgent repair work to roads damaged by floods and landslides, $40 million for a national flood relief programme and $10 million for farmers who lost their crops in flooded fields.

Last Saturday, Rowley also put the country on alert for a "weather emergency" after local and foreign meteorologists forecast torrential rain that triggered flooding that devastated areas and major roads across the country.


"PM denies ‘ghosting’ flood victims: ‘I’m leading relief efforts’"

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