Last update: 06-Dec-2013 9:37 pm
Friday, December 06, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Rowley: Emergency response a PR stunt
Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley has described the emergency response to the Diego Martin floods last week as a public relations stunt. Rowley made the statement while speaking with reporters on Sunday night at the opening of the People’s National Movement’s (PNM) new regional office (South,) Navet Road, San Fernando. He said he was “not satisfied” with the emergency response to the flooding, adding that relief has been slow in coming. “One gets the impression that they (emergency responders) are very happy when things happen like this. It is all photo opportunity, public relations gimmickry and ministers in boots trying to get photographs while talking nonsense. “There is no need for that. We want to see the public served properly,” he said.
Many Diego Martin residents were once again marooned last week in their homes when rising flood waters raged through the area after heavy overnight showers. Mopping up operations are still underway in the area. Rowley told reporters that responders should respond in the way the circumstances require and keep ministers out of the way. He said in 2010 Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar visited Diego Martin after the area was ravaged by floods and promised residents infrastructural works would be done to ensure the devastation would not be repeated. Rowley said three rainy seasons later residents were again reeling from losses. “Absolutely nothing has been done. These are PR stunts and gimmicks. We are not happy with the response,” he lamented. The PNM political leader recommended that resources from the Green Fund be used for reafforestation along the Diego Martin hillside to reduce the run-off when it rained.
He suggested that the replanting of trees on the hills was necessary since the hills have been subjected to abuse over the years. “If you plant (trees) you will slow down the run off and then that will allow the drainage to cope. “These are known solutions, plant trees, protect the forest from fires,” he said. He said the forest acts like a sponge. Rowley dismissed the Government’s plan to bring in Venezuelan engineers to solve the flooding problem in T&T. He also questioned what $750 million flooding plan Environment Minister Ganga Singh was referring to at last week’s post-Cabinet briefing. “What plan? I do not know what they are talking about. They keep making these statements on their own that have no value. I do not know that there is any flood plan. Infrastructure has to be done in the known trouble areas. There is no need for any billion dollar flood plan,” Rowley contended. Rowley said there needs to be a review of the whole situation in Diego Martin so it does not become an annual situation.
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