IN five days, eight contractors removed more than 500 truckloads of debris and garbage from Diego Martin, Morne Coco Road and Maraval areas following devastating floods in West Trinidad last Saturday.
There remains about 800 to 1,000 truckloads still to be removed.
This was reported by Local Government Minister Suruj Rambachan yesterday, as he delivered a statement in the Lower House, Tower D, International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain. He listed the efforts of a number of agencies in response to the flooding.
"Whatever might be the limitations and criticisms of Local Government corporations, the public in Diego Martin will attest to the fact that the Diego Martin Regional Corporation charged as a first respondent performed at a very high level," he said.
Diego Martin North East MP Colm Imbert said across the floor, "But they didn't build a single drain."
Rambachan noted that the regional corporation set up an emergency organising unit and worked feverishly coordinating recovery efforts, and received "outstanding support" from other regional corporations.
He noted that the National Self Help Commission had processed 42 grant applications, which would have been ready for distribution yesterday. He said the Housing Development Corporation had provided temporary accommodations for 45 people and is processing other applications.
He noted that citizens would be considered for micro-enterprise grants of $5,000 to assist with restarting their businesses and also for school book grants. He said Government was committed to completing assessments and helping people get back on their feet.
"Mr Speaker, today is not the time nor place to lay blame for what has happened. It is not the time nor place to speak about the cutting of the hillsides exposing the raw earth, nor is it a time to address the matter of unplanned developments, nor Mr Speaker is it a time to lay blame on who gave permission for persons to build on the hillsides or where they built without permission why the authorities did not step in. I am sure that these are matters that will be addressed with both the urgency and importance that is required," he said.
He said the Government commended several ministries and government agencies, including the Fire Service, Housing Development Corporation, the National Self Help Commission, REACT, Local Government regional corporations, NGOs, the Red Cross, the private sector, the police, the regiment, the Water and Sewerage Authority, the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management, the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission, Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago, and a special mention to Columbus Communications, "who contributed way beyond the call of duty" by assisting in transportation, communications and relief supplies.
He commented: "The speedy response to this crisis and the determination to ensure that normalcy was returned in as quick a time as humanly possible demonstrated that the people of this country care for each other and will go to extra mile to reduce human suffering and dislocation."
Imbert, a former works minister, said the Government "celebrates incompetence" and told them, including former works minister Jack Warner, "you ain't clean the river, the place flood".