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Belmont road caves in
Several residents of Augustine Lane, Belmont, spent Monday night in fear after parts of the road along with an iron caution barrier caved in while excavation works were being conducted by workmen on a nearby piece of land owned by a popular businessman. Works Minister Jack Warner and a team from his ministry; Port-of-Spain mayor Louis Lee Sing; MP for Port-of-Spain North/St Ann’s West Patricia McIntosh; councillors and police visited the cordoned-off area yesterday. A team from the Water and Sewerage Authority was also on site to redirect a major line which was affected. Warner said his estimation for road repairs was $12 million. Lee Sing assured that “the gentleman” responsible would pay for every inch of road that caved in. He said an injunction would be filed if no contact was made with the owner by noon yesterday.
Despite the large crowd assembled to the top of the hilly lane, a workman down below continued operating the excavator. Half the width of the affected roadway, over a distance of approximately 30 metres, caved in, dropping from about ten to 30 feet. McIntosh yelled to the driver of the excavator: “Stop, please! “Sir, stop it! “This is a terrible situation. Stop it right now! “You are going to get into more trouble. Stop it! Stop it!” Warner said he was shocked that work was still continuing and described it as lawlessness. Resident Joey Dipnarine said the road was a major one to get to Gonzales and that many motorists used it to escape morning traffic in Belmont.
He said: “With the loss of this road here, it is going to add up on traffic congestion on the Belmont Main Road between Norfolk and Belmont Circular Road.” He said for the last four months, workmen had been excavating the land “in the height of the rainy season.” Another resident, Ingrid Williams said she had not eaten or slept since Monday. She claimed her mother was so “stressed out” by the continuous excavation that she died three months ago. “Two months ago they constructed a wall and it came down,” Williams said. “I told the engineer that they needed to put up a retaining wall and they never take us on.
“Everytime rain falls a piece of dirt comes down.” Lee Sing said notice was served on the proprietor of the property, advising him to stop excavating but he persisted.
“One thing led to another and the matter is now before the courts,” he said. Warner said such acts of lawlessness were prevalent in the country and that they contributed to flooding. “People just cut the mountain willy-nilly with no regard for flooding, drainage or Town and Country Planning, and then they expect the government or the city corporation to fix the problem overnight and this has to stop...Who vex, vex,” he said. A meeting is expected to be held this morning at City Hall with ministry officials and the Port-of-Spain City Corporation. Messages left for the businessman were not returned up to late yesterday. An employee said he was in a meeting.
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