Sinanan on rainy season, flood prep...'Government doing all it can'

Workers on the Diego Martin Interchange Project
Workers on the Diego Martin Interchange Project PHOTO BY ROGER JACOB -

WORKS and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan says the Government and his ministry has done and is doing all it can to mitigate the effect of flooding with the rainy season very soon to start.

He made the comment to reporters while on a tour of the Diego Martin Interchange project on Sunday.

Asked about his ministry's ongoing desilting programme, Sinanan said the ministry has ongoing flood mitigation programmes in several areas. There are over 500 desilting projects ongoing, he revealed.

Last week, the ministry and its team visited Oropouche east and west where there were four large projects happening.

“The desilting/drainage project is ongoing and we are on schedule with that. It is a programme that starts in January and continues throughout the year. You hope to get the major work done in the dry season and then before the downpour you are hoping to complete the programme.”

On the impending rainy season and consequent annual flooding misery, he said the ministry was doing its part and there was no way a Government can engineer to mitigate heavy rainfall and flooding.

Sinanan said people just have to accept the fact that extreme rainfall and larger volumes of rain are the new norm for which no one can prepare.

Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan, centre, speaks with reporters during a tour on Sunday of the Diego Martin Interchange Project in Westmoorings. PHOTO BY ROGER JACOB

“The countries that have the most sophisticated equipment, the largest budgets, they are suffering from flooding," he said.

“What we are looking for is a quick runoff because we don’t know what to anticipate. Our channels can only hold a certain amount of water and we are living on an island where we have two tides that affect us every day.

“If you get one-month rainfall within a couple hours, the flow and runoff we have will not allow you to get the runoff before the next high tide. Once the next high tide comes in, it slows off the runoff. That is why last year, in some areas, we had water for almost two to three weeks (in) the very low-lying areas,” he said.

Sinanan said everyone has a part to play and when they visited Oropouche east and west, he and ministry officials saw several houses built on the river bank and people were refusing to give access to the ministry’s drainage department to rebuild the river bank.

He said the ministry may have to go to court to have this issue addressed.

“Once that downpour comes, we have some level of storage space and hope for that fast runoff. It was something the entire world was suffering from.”

On the interchange, he said motorists and residents in western Trinidad should see the first phase of the project completed by next week.

The project started on March 22, 2021 and is expected to cost $185 million.

In 2020, Sinanan said this would be a "free" project since money saved over from the Curepe interchange project would be used on the Diego Martin project.

Sinanan apologised for the inconvenience for residents over the past two weekends as work on the project continued. He said the ministry hopes to complete the first part of the project next week where lights will be removed and a roundabout installed.

“It is not just about the interchange to take the people out of Powder Magazine and coming out of Diego Martin area and taking them west, it is also an upgrade of the road network and drainage in the area.

“This area has always been challenged in terms of flooding and so part of this project is to improve drainage in the area, mobility and bring some sort of safety,” he added.

So far, traffic lights were removed, the roundabout is in place and Sinanan hopes the interchange leads to a smoother flow of traffic.

He complimented the contractor, Jusamco Pavers Ltd and National Infrastructure Development Company Ltd (NIDCO) for sticking to the timelines. He added that, so far, the project is within budget.


"Sinanan on rainy season, flood prep…’Government doing all it can’"

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