MEMBER of Parliament for Diego Martin Central Dr Amery Browne yesterday condemned the closing of the relief centre organised by the Ministry of Social Development, to accommodate the Eid-ul-Fitr public holiday over the long weekend.
In a telephone interview with the Express yesterday, Browne said in light of the fact that West Trinidad was still a disaster zone, the decision to close the relief centre Sunday and Monday did not make sense. He said the workers should have been rotated to ensure that relief was still provided for the affected residents and also to ensure the workers did not suffer from burn-out.
In response during a telephone interview yesterday, chairman of the Diego Martin Regional Corporation Anthony Sammy agreed partially with Browne's view concerning the relief efforts.
Sammy said when the idea was brought to him he was not in favour of it and suggested that the workers instead of staying home and having the centre closed, go out and meet the residents who were affected. He added that his advice was heeded and the centre was closed but workers were out meeting the concerns of those affected.
Browne also criticised the coordinating of clean-up efforts in the Diego Martin area.
"I've complained before and will continue to do so about the inadequate coordination. There is a lack of appropriate coordination of this particular disaster response. There are many individuals of the various agencies including the regional corporation who have been working very hard for the last week or so but the coordination of the response has not been of the greatest efficiency," Browne said.
In response Sammy, who is also head of the Emergency Operations Centre, said: "I'm very sorry, Dr Browne is totally wrong about that. He is beginning to sound like an alarmist... We are doing the work systematically. If Dr Browne has a problem he is free to call me. That is really cheap politics now is not the time for that."
Sammy said work has been going on round the clock. He added that 95 per cent of the roads in the Diego Martin/Petit Valley areas have been cleared. He added that some residents have been unreasonable in their cries for help with one complaining that his driveway had not been hosed down.
"We keep cleaning and if you see the inside of the drains, you will be surprised you will see some things that will blow your mind. I want people to understand that they contribute to their own problems," Sammy said.
Browne said the clean-up has been moving at a slower pace because of the disbanding of the Community-Based Environmental Protection and Enhancement Programme (CEPEP) in West Trinidad.