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September hearing for WASA’s appeal against corporation
The Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) has been granted an expedited hearing of its appeal against the Port-of-Spain City Corporation over the ownership of a 23-acre parcel of land in Westmoorings. Attorneys representing WASA appeared before the Court of Appeal yesterday morning seeking to appeal the decision of another appellate judge, who in May last year dismissed their application for an injunction stopping the corporation’s use of the property. Senior Counsel Seenath Jairam, who is representing WASA, said his client was concerned that the corporation’s use of the disputed site might pollute the aquifer within the property. “Our fear is we don’t want anything to contaminate the aquifer,” Jairam said.
In response, John Jeremie, SC, said the corporation was a “responsible entity” and had no intention of building on the site but instead had earmarked it as a “green space.” However, Jeremie said his client could not agree to the terms being sought by WASA in its injunction application, as its terms encroached on the corporation’s rights. After allowing both sets of lawyers to make brief submissions, Justice Allan Mendonca, who led the appeal panel, suggested that the parties should forego the injunction and instead come to a mutual agreement which would be coupled with an early hearing of the substantive appeal on September 30. They agreed. On January 11 last year, High Court Judge Carol Gobin awarded the corporation ownership of the land, saying it had been in the continuous and undisturbed possession of the corporation since the 1980s.
The land, sometimes referred to as the Cocorite Farm, lies off the Western Main Road in Westmoorings opposite West Mall. The dispute arose in 2011 when the authority resumed water production at the site, which had been discontinued in the 80s and put up signs to re-establish the property boundaries. On September 14 that year, the corporation’s CEO told WASA’s CEO the authority should cease and desist all activities on the land. WASA maintained its position. The following day, the corporation moved onto the site and tore down the signs. Attorneys Larry Lalla and Nyree Alfonso also represented WASA, while Kerwyn Garcia appeared alongside Jeremie.