Citizen action appeared to be taking a new turn when residents of Bamboo Nos 1, 2 and 3 got together this week to consider and promote solutions to their flood-stricken plight.
Over recent weeks, as rains came down in excess of usual seasonal severity, the Bamboo communities have endured punishingly intense floods. Worse is feared to come with the Met Service’s prediction that heavy rains will continue well into November. Recalling high levels of water spreading into private homes, the loss of furnishings and fearsome inconveniences, residents came together with the support of St Augustine MP Prakash Ramadhar to examine what is to be done.
From MP Ramadhar came the conventional message of calling upon Local Government and Works and Transport ministers for urgent action to prevent or reduce expected future floods. The Opposition MP reported little positive response from the ministers, to whom he had appealed on behalf of his constituents. But the residents had different ideas. They recalled a Government official’s response suggesting they have themselves to blame for having built in “natural ponds”.
Accordingly, they reduced expectations of adequate responses from the State, and instead boldly appealed to the private sector to come to their aid by providing preventive works, such as clearing passages within waterways and restoring protective river banks. While no specific names were given for the businesses addressed, the residents had in mind those non-State operators who possess the engineering and related means to make a difference in the Bamboo areas. Here, indeed, was a sharply different approach to the more commonplace protests against the Government and to specific ministers and MPs.
The Bamboo area is well-known as a bustling shopping centre for motorists seeking automotive parts. Businesses in the area, no less threatened by floods, should be motivated to respond to what may eventually be understood as a call for self-help action. With the evident effects of climate change, Bamboo people reported more floods over the last three years than in all of 30 preceding years.
To avoid further property damage and emotional trauma, pressing responses are called for and the affected communities are well-advised to combine for united representation and action, and to seek other than usual sources of relief.
Certainly, private sector initiative promises no magic formula. For one thing, as happened in Chaguaramas, State agency CDA has moved to stop roadway development independently undertaken by a private sector operative. This, however, should not be a signal of discouragement to communities combining efforts with private sector entities.
In the face of declining capacity and funding from the State for maintenance of infrastructure, Bamboo residents have turned to the private sector with the expectation that businesses in their community grasp the necessity for enhancing community well-being that will in turn positively reward their profit margins. As residents seek new ways, we urge private sector actors to step forward to help set a gold standard for professional and careful infrastructural reinforcement of which all can be proud.