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Excavation at San Fernando Hill: Surveyor, engineers called to account

Wednesday, April 23, 2014
The controversial excavation site on Circular Road, San Fernando. Photo: Rishi Ragoonath

There are a number of new twists in the continuing investigations into the excavation at the foot of the San Fernando Hill. The actions of the surveyor who surveyed the land in question and the engineering department of the San Fernando City Corporation, which might have given the go ahead to start work, have been brought into question.



Additionally, Innovative Security company, located just to the back of where the excavation is taking place, has also complained of cracks in the road leading to their business place and caving of the land, which is posing a threat to the property. San Fernando deputy mayor Junia Regrello said the corporation would have to write the developer to produce the survey done by a licenced surveyor to compare it with their own, to determine if he has gone beyond the boundary.


No work will be done on the site until the investigation has been completed. Regrello, in an interview said, “We are going to investigate who in the engineering department authorised the excavation and if there is any evidence that some private arrangement was made, we may have to move a vote of no confidence in the engineer.


“Because clearly we are looking at 15 feet of quarrying which actually took place within the last couple of weeks, without the presence of a representative from the Ministry of Energy which is a stipulation of the agreement. We have no evidence a representative was here on the site when work was being done at 2 am to 3 am in the morning.” Regrello said as custodians of the city, what was happening on Pointe-a-Pierre Road was an embarrassment to the city.


“It is an embarrassment to us as the administration arm of the council. We are looking bad and at the end of the day we have a vested interest to protect our citizens and a vested interest in how we manage the resources of the city.” 



Regrello, accompanied by chairman of the Building, Urban and Planning  Development Committee councillor Shaka Joseph, Alderman Kevin Ratiram, representatives from the engineering and public health departments and officials of the Town and Country Planning and the Environmental Management Committee visited the site where the excavation work is being done at the back of Stackhouse Wholesalers on Pointe-a-Pierre Road, San Fernando.


He said a special council meeting was held yesterday following health and safety concerns from residents of Pointe-a-Pierre and Circular Roads and Marabella where the material has been stockpiled. After the meeting, San Fernando mayor Kazim Hosein instructed Regrello to meet with all the stakeholders on the site to find a solution to the problem, as they did not want to discourage business in the city. Regrello also said they wanted to encourage economic trade in the city.


He said the city will claim the stockpiled material near the Marabella Police Station and have it removed to the intended location at Williamsville because it posed a health and safety hazard to residents, pedestrians and commuters. He said the material will be used for the development of the city, unless the developer could prove otherwise. During the visit to the site, the team was told the owner was out of the country and there was no one with authority to give information or make any decisions. 


Joseph told members of the media building plans and approval were given by Town and County and the City Corporation for work on the site to construct a basement car park and a supermarket. He said while the owner was adhering to most of the approvals and plans, they had a number of concerns with respect to the encroachment of the Hill and quarrying.


Representatives of the engineering department showed Regrello red flags at the foot of the hill, indicating where the boundary of the private developer would have ended and informed that they went at least 15 feet beyond the boundary. He was also told there were questions about the depth of the area excavated for the car park.



Mayor’s office: Was there CEC?

A statement yesterday from the mayor’s office said, “We are yet to ascertain, if any Certificate of Environmental Clearance was issued by the EMA and the role of the Ministry of Energy with reference to their presence during the excavation activity as stipulated in the agreement. The owner indicated that they were prepared to move the material from Marabella as agreed to the designated site in Williamsville.


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