Protests over sewer problem in Sando settlement

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

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