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Alarm over San Fernando Hill quarrying- Mayor launches probe

Sunday, April 20, 2014
Motorists drive past the huge mounds of gravel at Marabella. PHOTO: TONY HOWELL

San Fernando Mayor Kazim Hosein has launched an investigation into quarrying at the base of San Fernando Hill. He is also looking into links between that activity and huge mounds of gravel which are being stockpiled in Marabella. 



Hosein said he has ordered the San Fernando city engineer to investigate both activities which are connected to construction of a three-storey commercial building at the back of Stackhouse Limited at the corner of Circular and Pointe-a-Pierre Roads. He said he expects the city engineer to present his findings on Tuesday at a meeting of the San Fernando City Corporation. 


“This is worrying to me. Things must be done in accordance with the law. People must have respect for the law,” Hosein told the Sunday Guardian. He said the council will make a decision on their next course of action at Tuesday’s meeting. The mayor said he was concerned about the stockpiling of the material in Marabella, since it posed a safety risk to motorists and was a dust nuisance for nearby residents.


“In the heart of Marabella you are seeing this tall mountain and you have people worshiping right there (at a nearby crusade),” Hosein said. The stockpiles of gravel, almost as tall as a two storey building, are located at the corner of the Southern Main Road and San Fernando By-pass. 


Yesterday when the Sunday Guardian visited no work was taking place at either location. A backhoe, which was being used for quarrying at Circular Road was loaded onto a truck yesterday and removed from the site. At Marabella a mini-excavator was parked near the mounds of gravel but no workers were in sight.


The Mayor ordered a halt to the quarrying operations on Thursday. Officials from the Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs, together with armed police officers, visited the site after San Fernando West MP Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan expressed concern about the quarrying and noise. Hosein said preliminary investigations revealed that the land owner was granted Town and Country approval in 2008 for construction of a building but there had been violations of the conditions of the stipulated notice.


He said the material removed from the site should have been stockpiled on the parcel of land at Williamsville “so that no nuisance is created to the adjoining properties or any user of any nearby roads”. “Stockpiling of the material is confirmed to be taking place in Marabella in the residential area, which raises environmental and health issues,” he said.


On Friday, the Ministry of Energy issued a release stating that “no licence for mining has been granted to anyone or any entity for quarrying at this site or in the vicinity of the San Fernando Hill”. The ministry said it is monitoring the situation. Yesterday Seepersad-Bachan told the Sunday Guardian she was also monitoring the situation. She said she was unhappy about the quarrying taking place at the base of the San Fernando Hill since it is a protected landmark and heritage site. 


She said the quarrying raises a number of questions, including whether the material was being removed for the purpose of sale, which would be a breach of the law and whether a certificate of environmental clearance (CEC) was applied for and approved by the Environmental Management Authority (EMA).


San Fernando Business Association president Daphne Bartlett also expressed concern about the quarrying of the hill and the stockpiling of material in Marabella. She said she has been receiving complaints from her members about the noise, dust and the safety risks from the stockpiling of the gravel. Bartlett said if the material is illegal the San Fernando City Corporation should seize it and use it to backfill the San Fernando waterfront.


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