Driving through Mamoral Village, central Trinidad, an onlooker might be tempted to think it would be ideal for agro tourism. After all, stately royal palms and dense cocoa and citrus groves dot the landscape. Buttercups, balisier and cabbage patches are ubiquitous. But the picturesque tapestry was broken as the salt of the earth desperately cries out for an improved quality of life. Chief among their concerns are proper housing, adequate drainage and regular employment in the Cepep programmes. Recently, Mamoral resident Annabella Emmanuel and her aunt Babsie Persad complained bitterly about the poor drainage and the dilapidated condition of their already humble homes. They said councillor Merle Mungroo was aware of their plight. Zeroing on the drainage, Emmanuel said, “When rain fall it does still flood. Mamoral still gets a lot of flooding. We have no drains, so there is nowhere for the water to run off. The water does make huge ponds in the middle of the road. The neighbours (Bissoons) need a bridge behind the land. The river is cutting into their land. Other families are affected too,” she said. Rubbing her shoulders, Persad felt the infestation of mosquitoes was because of inadequate drainage. “I can’t light cockset or spray because I have a little grandchild,” she said.
Then, without warning, she switched to the need for a grant to fix her humble home. The structure is wooden with galvanise. The boards are weather beaten. She still uses a latrine or outdoor toilet. Persad said, “I need a grant to fix my house. I talked to Mungroo. I hear they are giving out grants but I don’t know much about it. I don’t know how to access it.” Chiming in, Emmanuel, a mother of five, volunteered to give a tour of her home. She hastily apologised for the squalid conditions. “I does do what I could do. But I am not working Cepep these days. I need regular employment,” she said. Mounting the stairs, the conversation piece turned to a huge hole in the flooring. The structure shook as she walked. “If I make a mistake I could fall through that hole. I don’t have money to repair it. I have to be careful at all times. I need a grant. I don’t like living so.”
How Miani got its name
Miani shop keeper Valerie Dick, a Mamoral resident for 29 years, registered her angst at the dilapidated condition of the roads. Directly opposite her tuck shop, drivers have to slow down because of the landslip. “The road is in dire need of repair. There is flooding at the lower point. Mamoral still floods. But not as much as before.” Potable water remains a major problem. Dick said, “They put in new lines. People have to tote water. Or go to the springs and wells. They have to depend on truck-borne water.” Earlier on, Emmanuel indicated she got “truck-borne water once a week.” Random checks with other residents revealed water was a big problem. Farmer Naresh Rampersad, a Mamoral resident for the past 37 years, added, “The water continues to be a problem. We had a lot of promises made. But to no avail.” Pausing from stacking coconuts, Videsh Mahabir and Joseph Mahaboob agreed there was dire need for improved infrastructure. They allowed businessman Peter Lopez to stress the litany of woes. Quizzed on the origin of Miani, he said, “I think it was named after a white man who bought an estate up here. “I have been living in Mamoral all my life. We need roads. We need bridges. We need proper drainage. The water is seeping onto the road. It is damaging it. We need curbs. We need streetlights. We don’t know who could be hiding in a patch of bush and attack you.”
MP focusing on rural communities
When contacted about Mamoral’s woes Tabaquite MP Suruj Rambachan said it would take approximately $300 million to fix his constituency. He admitted he was keenly aware of the need for water and infrastructure in Mamoral and other sections in his constituency which he shares with La Horquetta/Talparo MP Jairam Seemungal. Rambachan said he visited Mamoral about two weeks ago. “Both of us (Seemungal) have plans to fix the communities systematically.”
On the plight of families needing proper homes, he said. “They don’t have entitlements to the grants. The families who need grants might be squatters who have not been regularised.” Commenting on the dire need for a constant supply of water, he said, “There are areas that have not had water for 70 years. It is an ongoing project. There is a school around Brasso Venado area that needs water. We are enquiring from WASA. We don’t want to dig up the roads and not have lines.” He admitted Mamoral was a “complex situation.” “I can’t fix all areas at the same time. We (Seemungal) had a discussion. We are focusing on rural communities. We are trying to develop the agricultural access roads. We are prepared to help the farmers since it is an agricultural community.” During a previous visit, Rambachan said he met with residents from about four or five villages. “We talked about developing a playground and the agricultural roads. It is an agricultural community.”
He also felt residents should exercise some measure of responsibility. “I told them where I could see them to better understand their needs and adopt a planning programme, but few residents came.” He said he was aware of the need to improve infrastructure. Rambachan said, “I have three roads and traces that do not have pipe borne water. I have some big projects. I spent over $20 million to complete roads which were done in Caratal and other major roads in the Forres Park area. The minister said it was not possible to fix roads until you have installed the water. There is also a big problem with landslips, he agreed. “Over 40 houses have fallen down. Three months ago, I had to relocate some families. We have to think about Forres Park and Caratal. For 40 years, they have never had roads.” Apart from roads, he said he was looking at schools. “I have put in two brand new buildings. I am concentrating on sports. I have lit up seven grounds. I am into the phase of paving pavilions on five grounds. I am aware Mamoral has no sporting ground.” He heard the cries of Mamoral residents for a community centre. Instead, he offered to build them an activity centre. He said, “A lot of the students don’t have proper places to study. I told them I would put in computers and teachers who could help with their homework. They could also use it to conduct some classes for people in Mamoral.”