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November ruling on WASA/ City Corporation land squabble
High Court judge Carol Gobin is expected to rule in November on the ongoing feud between the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) and the Port-of- Spain City Corporation over 23 acres of land in west Trinidad. During the trial in the Port-of-Spain High Court yesterday, several senior staff from the Governmentowned utility testified before Gobin. Former Port-of-Spain mayor Murchison Brown also took to the witness stand on behalf of the corporation. The land, located on the Western Main Road in Westmoorings, is home to the authority’s Cocorite Farrell Well Field.
The dispute arose last year after the authority resumed water production at the site which was stopped in the 80’s, while placing signs to reestablish the property boundaries. Port-of-Spain mayor Louis Lee Sing and the corporation opposed the actions taken by the authority, while claiming that WASA was trespassing on City Corporation’s lands. The corporation demanded that the authority remove its employees and equipment. On September 14, last year, the corporation’s chief executive officer advised WASA’s chief executive officer that the authority should cease and desist all activities on the lands. WASA maintained its position. The next day, the corporation moved onto the site and tore down the signs. WASA workers were allegedly threatened with arrests for trespass, according to the documents presented in court. WASA alleged that it was the corporation which trespassed. During an earlier hearing of the case in October last year, the authority initially applied for an injunction against the corporation which was eventually withdrawn.
The authority’s claim centres around the Water and Sewerage Act of 1965. WASA’s contends that the corporation’s ownership and control of the lands, prior to September 1, 1965, was in connection with a public purpose—to supply water to citizens and residents of Port-of-Spain and its environs. WASA said from 1965 and continuing, it has monitored the aquifer at the site and maintained and laid infrastructure to operate the well. In its lawsuit, the authority said since 1965, the well and the lands formed an important part of its water production and distribution network for Portof- Spain and environs. WASA was represented by Seenath Jairam, SC, Larry Lalla and Nyree Alfonso, while Senior Counsel John Jeremie and attorney Kerwin Garcia appeared for the corporation.
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