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Indarsingh: Rowley absent from flood-hit areas


Couva South MP Rudranath Indarsingh – Photo by Jeff K. Mayers

COUVA South MP Rudranath Indarsingh, in a statement on Friday, chided the Prime Minister for allegedly not visiting flood-hit areas, and queried the sufficiency of the Government’s $150 million in flood relief. He called for a national infrastructure rehabilitation programme.

Recalling his visit to parts of his constituency hit by rains and floods, Indarsingh related, “As we toured from house to house, street to street, and community to community, the cry was common: ‘Where is Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley?’

“The Prime Minister has ‘ghosted’ the people.

“Several areas across the constituency of Couva South were affected by landslides, succumbing roads and shifting soil, with several homes affected by floods and weakening foundations.”

He named Boodoo Trace Indian Trail, Indian Trail Main Road and Gran Couva.

Indarsingh said Rowley had once asked citizens in central Trinidad to “give the PNM a chance,” but was not seen anywhere in flood-stricken areas to stand with citizens facing crisis.

“He has not been seen in the east, nor the west, nor the north nor the south, nor in central Trinidad. He has not even been seen in Tobago.”

Indarsingh said Rowley’s absence from this scene of sadness, crisis, disaster, emergency and urgent need revealed an individual who was allegedly callous, insensitive, selfish, anti-people, anti-central Trinidad, and a stooge of big business who snubbed the poor, downtrodden, humble and hard-working.

He recalled that after Rowley’s recovery from his recent bout of covid19, he had a round of golf with Sir Vivian Richards, in “true never-see-come see” fashion.

“Now, in this time of national emergency and calamity, the Prime Minster, who bolted to the golf course with speed and fervour, slouches distantly, numbly, and cowardly, peeping from behind the curtains at Whitehall rather than courageously attending to his citizens in their time of crisis.”

Indarsingh alleged Rowley was “anti-poor, anti-patriotic, anti-compassionate, anti-community, anti-country” and his election to office was the electorate’s greatest mistake.

“Once referred to as a raging bull, Dr Keith Rowley is now a sleeping sloth in the face of crisis in this country.

“He has also been just as uncaring and disinterested in the state of crime in this country, in the spiralling economy, in the growing economic hardships, in worsening traffic conditions, and in the overall decline. He must not just be condemned. He must be voted out.”

Indarsingh scoffed at the $150 million in flood relief as “too little, too late.”

“The Prime Minister’s announcement of $40 million to the National Flood Relief Programme, $100 million for road rehabilitation and landslide repair and $10 million for agricultural relief does little in inspiring confidence that this crisis is being urgently attended to.”

He said the Opposition had long pleaded with the Government to remedy landslips, crumbling roads and collapsing bridges. The relief sum was “pathetically reactionary” and could have been averted if Rowley heeded the Opposition’s calls for effective, proactive and quality repairs in regions suffering water damage and soil movement for the past seven years.

Indarsingh said the sum of $100 million was questionable, given the vast extent of urgent work needed today and how the costs of building materials, labour and technical fees had recently escalated.

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Couva South MP Rudranath Indarsingh looks at the collapsed Mt Pleasant Road, Carolina Village, Couva on Wednesday. Photo by Lincoln Holder

“The hopes of any family of receiving assistance to rebuild the pieces of their lives after the major losses over the last week are doused by this Government’s track record of promising relief and grants in a knee-jerk manner, while failing to ensure that these grants and relief funds are distributed in a timely and urgent sense.”

Indarsingh alleged that during the covid19 pandemic, the Government’s salary relief and rental assistance grants took up to a year to reach recipients, while after the great flooding of 2018, some households waited months to get grants, with many still waiting today.

He said recent reports of $50 million in fraud at the Ministry of Social Development raised the potential now for fraud with flood relief funds.

Indarsingh likened Dr Rowley to a hare, in being quick to speak, but also to a tortoise, in being slow to act.

“The sum of $10 million is of little hope to farmers in the face of a government that has flippantly ignored the constant pleas for the raising of river embankments, the provision of pumps and sluice gates, the proper dredging of waterways and the timely need for loss mitigation in wake of the upcoming Christmas season.

“The announcement of this $150-million package is way too little, way too late and comes from a government that is quick to make promises for the purpose of public relations, but slow to execute for the purpose of real relief, and untrustworthy in the allocation of resources, since in the past, their friends and party card-holders are moved to the front of the line, often undeservingly, while citizens in genuine need of help are left to suffer.”

Indarsingh called on the Government to set up a national infrastructure rehabilitation programme, in collaboration with the Opposition and all municipal corporations, so these allocated funds could be spent in a transparent, urgent and multi-partisan manner.

“I only pray that this $150 million will not go into the PNM’s upcoming local government campaign, nor to the construction of the PNM’s Balisier House, while homes, communities and lives across the country remain neglected by a government that has spent much over the years, yet achieved nothing to date.”