Government's budget for a nationwide desilting programme grew from an approved $1 million to some $32 million within the first six months of 2018.
However, despite spending that money to clear waterways and rivers, several communities in the country were devastated by flooding, including areas like La Horquetta that never experienced this type of deluge.
The additional $31 million included a $9 million transfer from the flood mitigation programme and another $500,000 from the flood alleviation and drainage programme. None of the money allocated to flood mitigation and flood alleviation and drainage was used for the purpose it was intended.
It also means that while the Government, specifically the Ministry of Works and Transport, spent $32 million on desilting waterways, no money was spent on flood mitigation, alleviation, and drainage.
Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan confirmed the increased allocation for the desilting programme and also confirmed the transfer of funds from the other flood mitigation programmes.
"The $500,000 was initially allocated to do a study to alleviate the flooding in downtown Port-of-Spain but we felt that all we did was studies and we wanted to implement something that would actually work," Sinanan said.
Sinanan said during the mid-year review, the Cabinet approved a further $10 million for sump pumps and works to ensure flooding in South Quay does not hamper the public for long.
"It involves cutting the ground, putting in more drains and the pumps to pull water off the ground and getting that water out to the sea," he said.
That programme falls under the ambit of the Programme for Upgrading Roads Efficiency Unit (Pure) and was contracted out to Junior Sammy. It is expected to be completed within the next two months.
The desilting programme started back in May at the Cunapo River in Sangre Grande. There was also work done in Penal and other smaller watercourses. However, by August Sinanan was forced to adjust the desilting programme and re-do work on waterways that flooded even after desilting.
But even with the massive nationwide flooding experiences across the country last weekend, including in some of the areas which the desilting programme targeted, Sinanan said he was satisfied that the programme was successful.
"Imagine what would have happened if we didn't do the amount of work on the waterways," he said.
Over the past two weeks, several parts of the country were under water. Recovery efforts are still underway in some of the harder hit areas of Greenvale, La Horquetta, Kelly Village, and St Helena, other parts of Central and Sangre Grande.
Sinanan said ten local contractors were retained for the desilting work.
"All bonded contractors at CTB (Central Tenders Board) rates," he said.
He did not respond to subsequent questions about the contractors who were hired to do the works.
Sinanan also confirmed that private companies have been found illegally carting away portions of the Caroni river bank to sell as landfill. Sinanan could not name the companies and said that no one has been charged in that matter, but said police were aware of it.
At least three residents contacted by Guardian Media confirmed that they saw trucks moving loads of the topsoil. One resident said the truck drivers disclosed that a load can cost as much as $800.
But Sinanan, however, said this did not have any major impact on the recent flooding.
"We looked at the river banks and not enough was moved to impact the flooding," Sinanan said.
May 2018—Black Water Channel at Tulsa Trace, Penal
May 2018— Cunapo River, Sangre Grande
June 2018—Diego Martin watercourses
July 2018—Maraval river
August 2018—Desilting programme adjusted after flooding in parts of the country.