Angry Sangre Grande residents are calling on the relevant authorities to ensure that the huge mounds of garbage which were removed from their homes following last month’s flooding are now removed immediately from the roadsides.
They say they now fear an outbreak of disease because the garbage is now drawing vermin and smelling up their communities.
The garbage, which includes damaged appliances, soaked mattresses and furniture, has been piled up at the front of their homes for the last three weeks and is yet to be removed.
The areas affected include Neerajan Street, Picton Road, River Road, Michael Street, Cooperative Street, Sangre Grande South, Fishing Pond, North Oropouche, Vega de Oropouche and section of Foster Road, Ramdass Street and Ojoe road.
Residents told the T&T Guardian even if they wanted to they cannot afford to pay private trucks and backhoes to remove the garbage, as the little money they have is now being spent to purchase new furniture and appliances for their homes, which are essential for their survival presently.
“Some of us are single parents and unemployed and depend on social welfare to live. The floods have put pressure on many parents and their children,” one resident who did not want to be identified said.
“Yes assessments have been made to the damages but this will take some time before we are compensated and we just cannot sit and wait, we have to make some special effort to have life going.”
Resident Sharmila Mootilal, a teacher, told the T&T Guardian that the garbage is now becoming an eyesore, breeding grounds for mosquitoes, flies and a haven for rodents, in addition to the stench they have been inhaling since the flooding.
She said children have also been getting rashes on their skin and the dried mud is now making dust which slush which is blowing in the air also a health hazard for the residents.
Members of the Hindu community who celebrated Divali yesterday said it is the first time in 40 years they will be celebrating the festivity in a garbage-filled environment.
Villagers Dookhantee and Seebaran said they had cleaned inside their homes but the huge heaps of garbage on the outside made them feel as though no cleaning was done.
“It is three weeks today since the flood made havoc in our community and all the garbage remains in front of our house still to be removed,” Ramdeen said.
Contacted on the issue, Sangre Grande Regional Corporation chairman Terry Rondon said there was a miscommunication between the acting Chief Executive Officer Vena Buchoon on organising the crews for the collection of garbage and no paperwork was done to have the trucks work on weekends to remove the debris before the man Divali celebration.
He said he had since contacted Minister of Rural Development and Local Government Kazim Hosein, who immediately got the ministry acting PS to give the all-clear for the removal to begin immediately in Sangre Grande and environs and for the release of funds for the payment of the work crews.
He said work on the removal of garbage started on Monday and will continue until all streets and villages are cleared.
Rondon promised to fight for the people as it was in bad taste to still have garbage lying in front of flood victims’ homes, especially to the Hindu community who were celebrating Divali today. He openly apologised to them.
On the issue of health concerns, Rondon said 20 young doctors had taken time off from their duties and voluntary vaccinated over 200 people from Vega de Oropouche on Sunday at the North Oropouche Government School and this will continue in other areas.