Diego Martin corporation chairman: Dr Rowley’s comments ‘contorted’

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

MY HOUSE WAS AT RISK: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley makes a point during the opening of the refurbished Skinner Park in San Fernando last week. (File photo)

CHAIRMAN of the Diego Martin Regional Corporation Sigler Jack said certain comments by the Prime Minister during the opening of the refurbished Skinner Park in San Fernando were taken out of context and in no way degraded or insulted his corporation.

Dr Rowley, in making a case for local government reform which would allow corporations to collect its own revenue from property tax, as well as receive subventions from central government, claimed he almost lost his house in Goodwood Park two months ago because of a broken drain.

He said, “The corporation can’t fix it because they haven’t got the sand and cement. And the water came through from the drain, into my house, undermining my yard. I was just there in time to catch the landslide before it cut.

“…but I tell you if a corporation has a revenue stream, it can always do more than if it’s waiting for a handout to pay in cash.”

At the UNC’s weekly Sunday press conference, St Augustine MP Khadijah Ameen accused Rowley of throwing the PNM-controlled Diego Martin corporation under the bus and crying crocodile tears.

However, when contacted for comment, corporation chairman Jack defended the PM and accused certain sections of the media of concocting their own version of events when Rowley made “a very clear case” for local government reform.

“The prime minister was not bashing the Sangre Grande Regional Corporation, the Siparia or Diego Martin corporations, the latter of which he spoke about. He was making a clear and categorical case for local government reform in the context, (that) moneys collected from property tax and other revenue sources could provide all 14 corporations with financial resources to get their work done,” Jack said.

As things stand, Jack added, it is no secret that financial resources allocated to the 14 corporations are inadequate.

Explaining the issues involving the PM’s home, Jack said: “The prime minister used his property as a reference to make a case (for local government reform). It had nothing to do about a shortfall.

“There are properties above where the PM lives and if you look at it, there are a number of houses perched on the hill and below these houses, it’s about 50 feet to the level of where the PM lives. None of those properties have a retaining wall.

“What would have happened, with this unusual rainfall we have been getting, the land under people’s private property started to slide and it brought down so much dirt and landslide to the lower level (that) it was compromising the PM’s house.”

Jack said a storm drain between the PM and his next-door neighbour’s property was too narrow to accommodate the volume of water now passing through, especially as the surrounding land higher up than the PM’s home, was now developed and accommodating many houses.

He said Rowley alerted the corporation to the issue and the corporation, along with the Ministry of Works and Transport and other agencies, pooled resources to reconfigure the area in order to resolve the issue at Goodwood Park – not only for the PM but for the community which could be affected by these landslides. The estimate for this scope of work, Jack said, is still being worked out.