Last update: 18-Dec-2013 2:52 am
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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$750m Flood Plan
The day after severe flooding along the East-West Corridor, from Barataria to Tunapuna, Cabinet yesterday approved a US$120 (TT$756 million) Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) flood alleviation and drainage programme for Port-of-Spain. That was revealed by Environment and Water Resources Minister Ganga Singh during yesterday’s post-Cabinet news briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister, St Clair. He said the plan had three components:
• Drainage works for the critical areas flooded in Port-of-Spain, at a cost of US$90 million. Types of work to be included are interceptors, drainage systems, detention ponds and pumping stations. The works are to be sited within the sub-catchment formed between the St Ann’s and Maraval rivers, according to an IDB document.
• Institutional strengthening of the Drainage Division at a cost of $10 million. The IDB document said that component “will address the weak institutional arrangement of the sector, modernise the legislative framework.” It added that it would also include the transformation of the Drainage Division into an independent authority within the ministry.
• Creation of a “linear park” at a cost of US$20 million.
The IDB document on the “Flood Alleviation and Drainage Project” said that component “will finance all the civil and landscaping works for the implementation of the 1.8 km linear park to be located at St Ann’s River.” The IDB said: “The river discharge is one of the most problematic areas in Port-of-Spain in terms of flooding. “This area needs to have an integral solution which will contemplate the redesign of the civil works at the discharge area, including road bridges, diversion chambers, river bed works, etc.
“Therefore, it will be necessary to adapt the linear park to the final layout of these works in order to give desired functionality of the park.” Singh said Cabinet also agreed to set up an inter-ministerial steering committee to provide guidance on carrying out the programme. He said work already was proceeding, in collaboration with the Port-of-Spain mayor Louis Lee Sing, to put basic infrastructure on city streets to ensure garbage was not thrown into the drains.
There was need for a culture change, he added, because the city corporation workers “sweep the streets, the streets are clean but the drains are filled with garbage.” The minister said when attempts were made to have the resources of state-owned WASA used to clear the garbage in city drains, they were met with some challenges from city corporation workers. But the matter was amicably resolved through discussions with the city engineer, he said.
Dealing with the flooding, Singh said it was a perfect example of climate change. “This is where you have a rain deluge with high intensity in areas where you cannot predict (it would fall),” Singh added. He said the flooding also was caused by “developments which have stressed our existing drainage infrastructure.” Sea level rise and inadequate drainage infrastructure also contributed to the flooding, he added.
Singh said he and officials of his ministry visited the areas which were severely affected and after initial investigation it was found that the El Socorro drain did not have the capacity to carry the water under the Churchill-Roosevelt Highway. He said it was discovered “a developer unscrupulously placed four-feet-diameter culverts in the main drain midway towards the outfall in the Caroni River in order to access his own property.”
Singh said cleaning of the drains was expected to begin yesterday and a drain under a furniture and appliances store in San Juan would be examined to reduce flooding in the future. Further investigations were to be carried out to determine what caused the flooding at Mt Hope near the two public hospitals, he said. Noting that St Joseph and St Augustine were “hardest hit, he said the drainage could not accommodate the level of development in those communities.
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