Residents of Bon Air Gardens East in Arouca say they awake each morning to the pungent scent of waste and garbage residue scattered throughout its streets.
According to an anonymous resident, villagers of Swift Drive often endure the sickly odour while scrubbing roadways of bits and pieces of garbage that are left behind by defective collection trucks. Without undertaking their own cleaning, she said, the odour lingers and travels into the resident’s premises.
Defective compactors, devices used to create space on-board these trucks, she said, are to blame for the issue.
“The compactor in the garbage truck which collects the garbage in my area is defective. The compactor is the mechanism on the truck which crushes the garbage into a compact form to ensure a more efficient storage within the truck. Because the compactor is defective, when it is compacting the garbage, bits of garbage escape along with odorous liquids from the garbage and this wet, smelly mess remains on the roadway. The stench is quite powerful as the odour reaches inside our houses.”
She added that the issue has been a long-standing one, affecting many outside the specified street. In 2018, she said, residents attempted to remedy the issue by contacting the contractor charged with garbage collection in the area. Temporary relief, she said, was brought about as the faulty compactors did not deploy at her home. However, in recent times, she said, the issue has again resumed.
“On January 19, 2018, I complained to one representative of the company which owns these trucks and provides the garbage collection service to this area. He arranged for the truck to desist from compacting the garbage in front of my house but then, the truck driver started compacting the garbage at the top of my street. So, either way, one has to drive over the mess and into one’s garage. Currently, the driver of the truck is again compacting the garbage in front of my house and I can no longer get assistance,” she said.
New vehicles for collection
The Express contacted Bon Air/Arouca councillor, Paul Leacock, for a response. Leacock, who is the former chairman of the Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation, said he had not been made aware of the issue. While there are other issues concerning garbage collection in some areas, he said, he had not been told of the matter at hand.
He asked that the resident speak with him further.
“The area we had trouble with is Bon Air West, which includes my neighbourhood. I don’t know of any problems with garbage pick-up there. We had an issue with residents dumping garbage. But as far as I am aware, in Bon Air East we have not had any complaints,” he said.
Following a conversation with Leacock, the resident was told that the issue would be mentioned to the area’s health inspector. Disheartened, she said, she did not expect any swift response or resolution on this issue.
The Express then contacted corporation chairman Kwasi Robinson to ask if anything could be done. Robinson said that the issue was brought up in the corporation’s last meeting by the area’s health inspector.
After addressing the issue with the contractor, he said, the contractor was to outfit new vehicles to address the faulty compactors. He added that the issue could not have been as long-standing as it was only recently brought to their attention. “We are working very hard, we have one of the best health inspectors in the area here so we will definitely look into it and see what we can get done,” he said.
He also asked that the resident establish contact with him. The resident has since told the Express that she was pleased with Robinson’s response. “He was receptive and sympathetic towards my plight. He told me someone would contact me to get the details from me,” she said.
Hololo Mountain Road needs repairs
“Why are we being ignored? Do we not matter?”
This is a question asked to the Express by an elderly resident of Hololo Mountain Road in Cascade last week, who said that portions of its roadways are in dire need of repairs.
According to the resident, a recent paving of the outer ends of the road in 2018 neglected its inner sections. As a result, this section remains in disrepair while its outer ends, currently occupied by higher income families, have not.
“During the latter part of 2018, a paving job was done in the Cascade and Hololo areas. Most of the main access roads were resurfaced, however, Hololo Mountain Road, which starts at Christ Church, was paved only up to light pole 19 on the western end, and then from around light pole 30 onwards, on the eastern end.’
“Where the influential people are living is where it was paved. Where the poor people are living is where it remains. Since then I have been trying to have the issue resolved to no avail. I have called the Ministry of Works, the Director of Highways, the MP’s office and also the constituency office trying to get answers as to why this section of the road was not paved. All I am getting is a runaround,” he said.
While other residents said that they believed the paving to be partial to those of higher income, they also told the Express that Hololo Mountain Road was plagued by more issues such as poor drainage.
“The drains are bad and some parts of the roads are damaged badly. It hasn’t been fixed for quite a while. It has been over five years now and nothing has been done and things are getting worse,” said one resident.
Asked about these issues, councillor for the area, Sherwyn Jones, said that he was aware of these concerns as they were brought up during the paving in 2018. However, he said that while these pavings did in fact appear to benefit the middle to higher income end of those in the area, they were completed by the Ministry of Works’ PURE programme based on the assessment of its engineers.
“The PURE engineers went into Cascade and they didn’t do a total paving of the road. What they did based on financial constraints was to pave the particular parts of the road that were badly off. It had nothing to do with the influential or the affluent. They did an assessment from the bottom to the top and the area that needed to be paved was paved. At the time there were some who thought it was unfair but it was done based on the assessment. That was three years ago so while I am not aware of any particular issues, it is quite possible that in that time frame the roads there have worsened,” he said.
While the road is the responsibility of the regional corporation, he said the paving was done through the Ministry of Works on its request due to a lack of funding. Where projects exceed the corporation’s allocations, he said, the ministry can provide assistance if requested. The timeframe for rendering this assistance, he added, can often span multiple years. As a result, he said, repairs were unpredictable.
“I can’t make a prediction as even that paving took place after we raised the issue around 2013. So, years later it may take place but I can’t give an exact timeline or schedule,” he said.
In the interest of the constituents, he said, he would visit the area and evaluate the conditions of its roads in the following week.
Contacted for a comment, Member of Parliament Stuart Young said the issue would be looked into. He added that no discrimination was made in paving.
“I will look into this. I was in Hololo not too long ago. There is certainly no discrimination made on the basis of affluence. I have requested the assistance of the various authorities who are responsible for paving for many areas of the constituency of Port of Spain North/St Ann’s West throughout my tenure as MP. I do recognise that there are limited resources. However, I will continue advocating as the MP for the constituency,” said Young.