Kublalsingh: abandoned highway construction partly to blame for floods
Dr Wayne Kublalsingh believes the now abandoned Debe to Mon Desir highway construction project has been a contributing factor to the floods in Penal, Debe and surrounding areas.
The Developmental Economist who led the Highway Re-Route Movement (HRM) against that project, said though weather patterns have changed, manmade actions, namely the construction of the highway through the Oropouche lagoon has aggravated the situation.
Dr Kublalsingh staged two hunger strikes in protest of this construction which was abandoned in 2015 when the People’s National Movement took office.
A 2006 report by the Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA) Wetland titled “The Delineation of South Oropouche Swamp and an Assessment of the Potential Impacts of Highway Construction through the Swamp” noted that construction of the highway, would, among other things, result in increased flooding potential.
Dr Kublalsingh told Loop that an embankment was built by the last Government and he has been appealing for this to be removed to alleviate the flooding.
Following the passage of Tropical Storm Brett, Dr Kublalsingh called for the removal of the quarter mile embankment after extensive flooding in the Oropouche region.
He said there were nine rivers running from east to west toward the Gulf of Paria which were clogged because of the embankment.
“The quarter mile of the embankment is making the water very difficult to cross to enter the mangroves system so the water is being trapped in the basin,” he said.
He said as a result, excess water is backed up through Barrackpore and Penal.
Dr Kublalsingh also pointed out that in Silver Stream along the San Fernando to Point Fortin highway, the river was closed off and an artificial channel created which is also contributing to the flooding situation. That area experienced heavy flooding in July
He said local Government bodies should be given the resources and manpower to handle these situations in their communities as the Government cannot do it.