“I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.” —Margaret Thatcher
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Squatters, angry birds cause havoc in Sangre Grande
Residents of Sangre Grande are under attack both from the air and land. Making the comment was Martin Terry Rondon, chairman of the Sangre Grande Regional Corporation at yesterday’s Joint Select Committee meeting in Parliament. The committee was chaired by Independent Senator Anthony Vieira.
Vieira said the purpose of the meeting was to examine activities undertaken by the corporation from 2011 to 2013 in specific areas, including human resource, management development, financial management, public health, infrastructural development, policing and security and disaster management.
In giving details of the problems, Rondon said, “We are challenged in Sangre Grande with two most important burning issues, both in the air and on the ground. We have thousands of birds that roost from 6 am to 6 pm and causing real problems in the heart of Sangre Grande. “And we have endless squatters from Valencia to Matura and they make demands to us...under humanitarian reasons I stretch out...I reach out to them, but it really hard to get down to whatever they want,” Rondon said.
In response, Local Government Minister Marlene Coudray said no corporation and no organisation could fix 100 per cent of the problems. “But in order to appease people you have to visit them and you have to talk to them. I know you are trying your best, but we must have a system where the public is satisfied,” Coudray added. In an interview with the media after the meeting Rondon said the birds were Martins which had taken up residence in the centre of Sangre Grande and repeated attempts to get rid of them had failed.
In February, the Sunday Guardian highlighted the problem in the Eastern town and use of metal spikes and artificial owls had failed to chase away the birds. “There are thousands of them and their droppings is what is causing the grave concern, because it is costing us thousands of dollars every month to clean down the streets and there are two eating places right there,” Rondon said yesterday. “We not into killing them, but we want to do the best to get rid of them and in doing the best, it costing us thousand of dollars.”
He said the corporation had contracted a United States bird expert to solve the problem who is expected to arrive in the country within the next two weeks. The fee for this Chicago-based expert was $160,000, Rondon added. On exactly what the expert intended to do to get rid of the birds Rondon said: “He is supposed to put some gel on the electrical wire, because they are roosting there. And there is a sound...an owl, that really and truly get them scared.”
The gel, Rondon said, cannot be found in T&T. Interim president of the Sangre Grande Chamber of Commerce Kenneth Boodhu also complained the birds were causing a health problem.
Grande squatter problem
On squatting, Rondon said the corporation identified eight squatting areas, each one comprising some 7,000 squatters. “They are choosing the areas and they are going in the forest because they know that is where they can’t find them,” Rondon said. Her urged government to play a greater role in the delivery of social services in these areas. “People sitting on their bed and cooking in one room, and I am concerned about the people and what is taking place with them,” Rondon said.