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Hinds: Beetham miscreants causing flooding woes

Sunday, August 19, 2018
Acting Attorney General and Laventille West MP Fitzgerald Hinds, left and Works Minister Rohan Sinanan, right, listen to Navin Ramsingh, ag director of Highways, as they discuss dredging works in the Beetham Gardens yesterday. PICTURE SHIRLEY BAHADUR

Stolen equipment, threats, and demands for large sums of money from contractors are the reasons behind the continuous disruption in routine dredging of the two major rivers that run through the Beetham.

These obstructions have contributed to the flooding issue in Beetham Gardens. So said Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan and recently assaulted MP for Laventille West Fitzgerald Hinds.

Yesterday as work resumed on the waterways by contractors V&V Contracting Ltd, now under the watchful eyes of the Police Service and Defence Force, Sinanan and Hinds told the media as recently as August 10, prior to the flooding at Beetham Gardens on August 13 and 14, contractors were chased out of the area by “certain elements”, forcing them to abandon the dredging exercise which led to the flooding.

“While the contractor was mobilising to do the dredging certain elements would have moved in and told the contractor he had to stop. However, with the cooperation of National Security this morning, the work has started back and we intend to continue this work, which would help with the flooding in the Beetham and Barataria areas,” said Sinanan.

He said the work, which began in January, would have been completed already if that incident had not occurred on August 10. He subsequently noted that as a result of these ongoing interferences, taxpayers are feeling the brunt as contractors arguably ask for more because of the risks involved in working in these specific areas. He said if that continued, a job that should cost $100,000 in certain areas would now cost $200,000, because very few contractors would bid for the job and when they did, they would want to cover all the risks involved.

‘A few misguided, illiterate miscreants’

Hinds, who was doused with flood waters by a few residents last Tuesday on a visit to the area where he hoped to bring relief to flood-affected residents, said obstruction of routine dredging by “miscreants” of the community dated as far back as the 90s when the PNM procured the services of Carl King Company Ltd to do dredging of the entire drain from Morvant Junction right down to the Citrus Growers, in order to clean and pave the murky drain that ran alongside the Priority Bus Route in the Beetham.

Fearing for his life and that of his workers as well as the safety of his equipment, after equipment was stolen and $400,000 was demanded of the contractor to return it, the job was abandoned.

Hinds noted the drain remained unfinished up to today.

In another instance, Hinds said, Lutchmeesingh’s Transport Contractors Limited, one of the contractors hired during the rebuilding of four culverts which had become clogged, feared for his life after some miscreants of the Beetham Gardens again approached that contractor demanding $400,000 or else he and his workers would meet trouble. He said the contractor did not concede to the demand and shots were subsequently fired from the Beetham, injuring one of his supervisors. Following that incident, he said, $200,000 of taxpayers’ money had to be spent in security.

He also highlighted a similar occurrence during the reconverting of the Laventille Technology Centre where workmen were robbed of their valuables on the first day of the job.

Hinds said the dredging exercises were of grave importance as the waterways must remain clean to prevent flooding issues, but there were those who insisted that it must stay this way.

“We have an understanding as to why they want it to stay this way but we also understand why it cannot remain this way because the water will not flow out,” said Hinds.

Taking the opportunity to address his unfortunate encounter last week with a few of his constituents, Hinds said what was displayed was “the share ignorance of a few misguided, illiterate miscreants whom many from that constituency found to be gravely offensive but many of them cannot outrightly say it as they will come under serious threat”. He said he could confirm this from the knowledge he has from past events.

Hinds said he held no malice against the people, but wanted the handful of troublemakers to know that when they behaved like that they were causing their entire neighbourhood to be stigmatised and marginalised as a consequence. He said the many comments from the public regarding the entire community worried him to a degree as not all residents of Beetham Gardens were like the few who engaged in the act.

“So don’t blame all of Beetham, it is a handful of misguided people who feel they could bully their way through everybody in this society,” Hinds said.

He said he would address the national community about Laventille soon. (See Pages A6, A7)


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