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Corporation moves to ‘name and shame’ errant landowners

Published: 
Sunday, July 9, 2017
Chairman of the Siparia Regional Corporation, Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh, looks over the lagoon in Silver Stream Road, Fyzabad during his tour of the area yesterday.

Describing the penalties for illegally blocking watercourses as laughable, chairman of the Siparia Regional Corporation (SRC), Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh said they will be embarking on a “name and shame” campaign against errant landowners.

Supervising the third day of flood relief works in the Mon Desir and Fyzabad communities yesterday, Ramadharsingh said the $1,000 and $1,500 fines for breaking the law were not deterring landowners and developers, who stand to gain millions from the sale of their properties. He said Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan has agreed to look into the existing legislation with an aim to strengthen, but the corporation will move a motion calling for parliamentary action to become urgent.

“This law will take some time to come into effect, because there is a parliamentary agenda and this may not be as high up as it should be. While those laws are on the books, the fines are $1,000 and $1,500. When a man or a woman is developing 10 acres of lands and plans to sell them for millions of dollars, they laugh off these fees. These are comical to them, but this situation that occurred with these families and others is not comical at all.

“People suffered here for days and weeks because of many issues: The building of the highway, the dislocation of the communities, the fracturing of the drainage system and also with private developers. Therefore, we are going to take a no-nonsense approach. I’ve spoken to some of my colleagues, councillor Deryck Bowrin and others, and while the law is being proclaimed, we are going to develop a plan to name and shame some of the people who are errant, who are not following the laws of Trinidad and Tobago and who by doing that will cause severe hardship in times of calamity and disaster to the simple law-abiding citizens of Trinidad and Tobago,” Ramadharsingh said.

On Saturday, Sinanan told the Guardian that 75 per cent of flooding in Trinidad was man-made, through pollution of the watercourses and illegal land developments. Since Friday, several communities along the South Western peninsula have been under floods. Silver Stream Road, Fyzabad and National Mining Road, Mon Desir were severely affected. Ramadharsingh said the floods were caused by the construction of the Solomon Hochoy Highway Extension Project, in which the contractor redirected a river. He said a land developer had diverted a river around his properly and narrowed the channel in the process.

Water remained in the community up to yesterday and Ramadharsingh estimated that it was down to 10 per cent. While the communities were returning to normalcy, he said the work done will only help to reduce the level of flooding should heavy rains return. He said a new drainage project will have to be done.