A health hazard is looming at Picton Settlement, in south Trinidad as raw sewage continues to flow down the main street near residents’ homes causing children and pensioners to fall sick.
The residents moved into the settlement four years ago after giving up their homes and lands to facilitate the construction of the Solomon Hochoy Highway extension.
However, since then, their lives have been miserable. The roads have collapsed in some places and maintenance crews do not upkeep the drains. Even worse, garbage trucks do not pass in that area so residents either burn their waste or pack the garbage in their vehicles to dump in a communal bin a mile away.
During a protest yesterday, residents called on the authorities to intervene saying they were fed up of the unsanitary conditions. Heaps of garbage were seen piled in several spots on the outskirts of the community. In a nearby street, corbeaux pecked at bags of poultry waste which were left by a pluckshop owner.
The stench of the waste and sewage remained pungent in the air.
Hema Polo said residents were forced to either lock their doors or leave the village because of the smell.
Pointing to tall bush around their homes and a tree growing in the middle of a collapsed street, Polo said: “We have been forgotten here. There are rats, snakes and flies all around because of the garbage. We are calling on the authorities to do something now.”
She said because of the collapsed road, access to her home by vechicles was impossible.
“When I buy groceries, I have to walk with it up to the hill for about a kilometre to get to my house because cars do not come in here,” Polo said.
Pensioner Badal Jagernath, 71, who hobbled with a walker to join the protest said the area around his home was a haven for snakes and rats.
“A macajuel came to swallow me. If you see how big it was. I had to call the neighbour,” Jagernath said.
Lena Deonarine said apart from insects and snakes, the bushes were also a hideaway for criminals. She said two weeks ago, burglars broke into her home and stole $40,000 in jewellery.
They also tried to get into other homes but were unsuccessful.
“We saw the scratches left by the pigfoot. They took all my jewels and they robbed the doubles vendor as well,” Deonarine said. She explained that the height of the bushes made it easy for someone to hide.
Nisha Gokool said her children had fallen ill because of the stench.
“They get vomiting and diarrhoea. We have been reporting this problem for the past two years and nobody is helping us,” Gokool said.
Davindranath Maharaj said the model house which was built in 2014 as a blueprint for residents, remains unoccupied except by rats, snakes and centipedes. He said residents cut the grass around their homes themselves, but the rest of the settlement had become too overgrown to handle.
Chairman of the Penal/Debe Regional Corporation Dr Allen Sammy was in a meeting and was not available for comment but a source at the corporation said that area fell outside of the jurisdiction of the corporation.
MP for Oropouche East Dr Roodal Moonilal also did not answer his cellular phone and could not be reached for comment.
Reporter: Radhica De Silva