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‘Leaking water line destroyed our home’

Published: 
Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Couple seeks compensation from WASA
In this February 2015 photograph, Iere Village resident Kamalar Sahadath walks through the rubble of the eroding roadway in front of her home.

A Princes Town couple who claimed that a leaking water line damaged their home irreparably went to court yesterday seeking compensation from the State-owned Water and Sewerage Authority.

The couple claimed that their home sunk 20 feet in the space of two years owing to a leaking water main.

In their lawsuit, Darwin and Kamalar Sahadath are claiming that the State-owned utility was negligent as it allegedly failed to inspect and repair its pipeline in front of their home at Iere Village Branch Road, Princes Town, causing a slow acting landslide on their property.

Darwin Sahadath took the witness stand before Justice Vasheist Kokaram in the Port-of-Spain High Court yesterday and used photographs to give an account of the progression of damage to his home since June 2012.

He claimed that he and his wife built the four-storey house between 2004 and 2010, but only began to notice issues with the pipeline, two years after they moved it.

Darwin said that he contacted WASA after he noticed large cracks and sink holes forming in the road in front of his house. He said there was water flowing out of them.

The secondary school teacher said that WASA only dispatched a work team after three and four days.

“To my knowledge and looking at the work being done, WASA only repaired the water connection from my house to the main line and did not inspect the pipeline for leaks,” Sahadath said in his witness statement which was tendered into evidence.

The connection was repaired on five further occasions before WASA repaired the leaking pipeline in March 2014, according to the homeowner.

“It was only after the pipeline was removed from underground that I noticed that water stopped coming up from under the surface of the road. However, there was considerable damage to the road surface, and the public drainage to my home which allowed rainwater to continue to penetrate the soil and cause my house to slip further,” Sahadath said.

He said that as a result of the leaks, his home had sunk by 20 feet by November 2015, with cracks developing in the foundation and walls. The home now has to be demolished in anticipation of further movement.

The Sahadaths commissioned reports from two engineering and survey firms to determine the cause of the landslip.

The reports state that the soil in the area that the house and pipeline are located is known as “Talparo Clays”, which is prone to swelling when exposed to water. Both firms concluded that the damage to the couple’s home was likely to be caused by the leaking pipeline and not normal rainfall.

Through their lawsuit, the couple is seeking a little over $2 million, which represents the value of the property inclusive of demolition costs. They are also seeking repayment of the $5,000 monthly rent they have been paying since they were forced to abandon the property in March 2015, as well as compensation for emotional distress, discomfort and loss of enjoyment of their property.

In its defence, WASA is denying any negligence. The company attributed the damage to the property was based on the structure’s foundation which was not suited to the soil type and the homeowners failed to take steps to ensure that their property was not saturated with water.

The Sahadaths are being represented by Larry Lalla and Vikash Lal, while Keston McQuilkin and Roshini Balkaran appeared for WASA.

The trial of the case continues today.