Riverbank squatters are contributing heavily to flooding in several communities, according to Tunapuna Piarco Regional Corporation (TPRC) chairman Derek La Guerre.
La Guerre made the comment as he and other corporatioin officials toured flooded areas in parts of St Helena and El Carmen yesterday.
La Guerre said unplanned development has been creating havoc when it comes to flooding.
He said, “We have inadequate drainage and there is a population explosion in parts of the country.
“The existing drainage infrastructure needs to be upgraded. The Ministry of Works has embarked on an extensive programme a month ago to widen watercourses. Sadly, persons occupying the riverbanks are chasing out crews when they come to do drainage works.”
He added, As recently as Sunday morning in the San Rafael area, the residents blocked the crew with the excavator and chased them out. People want to occupy lands on the river banks and when the rivers cannot be cleaned flooding takes place. When people go to live on the river banks, they create additional problems for the authorities, we have to move in and rescue them.”
La Guerre said the corporation is equipped with four dinghies and trained staff to rescue people who are trapped in flooded houses.
He said the corporation will be doing assessments and seeking to assist all flood victims in the shortest possible time.
Samuel Sankar, the local government representative for St Helena/Warrenville, said excavator operators were chased from the Warrenville area when they went to clean a watercourse on Monday.
He said, “We have been trying to do preventative work but persons who occupy the lands around the watercourses are doing their best to keep workers out because they want to take the land reserves. Look at what is happening today, floods, and it’s the people who have to suffer. We have to work together to bring awareness so we can reduce flooding.”
Sankar said the corporation will send in clean-up crews and are in touch with the relevant authorities to bring relief.
Meanwhile, Works Minister Rohan Sinanan said yesterday that low-lying areas could not have escaped flooding from the recent rains. He said the volume of rain during the 24-hour period was just too much, adding it caused basins in low-lying areas to overflow.
Sinanan said this pattern of heavy rain is showing up across the globe in several countries, including China and India.
In central Trinidad, the Las Lomas/St Helena area was heavily hit.
Caroni East MP Dr Rishad Seecharan said he will be working throughout the weekend to bring relief to the hundreds who were left stranded by the flood. Seecharan said on Tuesday, his office will start the distribution of hampers.