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Sinanan to builders: Operate within the law

Sunday, June 24, 2018
Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan tours the Bagatelle River in Diego Martin as an excavator clears the watercourse yesterday. Photo by:Shirley Bahadur

Anna-Lisa Paul

Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan has issued a warning to property developers and potential homeowners to make sure they operate within the law or face the consequences moving forward.

Following a visit to the Bagatelle River, Diego Martin, yesterday, Sinanan responded to questions about the flooding which has become the norm in several areas following heavy rains.

He said there was "too much-unplanned development in areas that were not designed for development."

Surmising that this was connected to higher land prices, Sinanan said "A lot of big developers would have bought land in low-lying areas. In other words, a lot of swampland is now being utilised for housing developments and that is what is posing a big problem.

"Those were areas where the water would have a natural breach and if the water can't breach into that area, it has to go somewhere.

"Where the water would normally breach, somebody went and filled that land four feet high, put down 200 houses, and the water has to find somewhere else to go."

Asked if private property developers were following the rules regarding permission to build, the minister said "In most cases they do not have the approval, especially the drainage approval."

During a meeting with stakeholders including the Housing Development Corporation last week, Sinanan said they produced a map of T&T and advised people of the flood-prone areas that they should stay away from.

Asked if it was possible to penalise some property developers, he said "We do not have a good history of enforcement in Trinidad and that is why a lot of people take advantage of the situation.

"A lot of developers who have the cash to build and do not have to go to the banks actually start building while they are applying."

He assured his ministry was now collaborating more closely with the Ministry of Planning and the Environmental Management Authority to get it right.

He said "This is a call to citizens who are buying property in any development, first ask if all the approvals are in place because more than 50 per cent of them have no approvals for drainage and even Town and Country."

He noted that fraudulent documents continue to come to his ministry for approvals.

Sinanan estimated that 75 per cent of the flooding the country experiences on a yearly basis was man-made.


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