6 newly built condos in D.C.'s Trinidad range from $379,000 to $599,000
This unit has a condo fee of $171 per month and an annual tax bill of $4,280. Other available units are priced from $414,000 to $599,000. The condo, located in the Trinidad neighborhood, is close to ...
US coach Gregg Berhalter says team has progressed in two years since Trinidad loss
FAIRFAX, Va. – Thursday marked the unhappiest of anniversaries for the US men’s national team. It’s been two years since the stunning 2-1 away loss to Trinidad & Tobago on the final day of Concacaf ...
The South-West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) has confirmed that 11 cancer patients were affected by a leaking roof in the oncology unit of the San Fernando General Hospital (SFGH) on Friday.
In a release the SWRHA said immediate action was taken and within two hours the situation was back to normal.
It said the matter was immediately reported and repaired, delaying the administration of chemotherapy to 11 patients by approximately two hours.
“All patients scheduled for that day received their mixtures and all other patients received full care inclusive of filled prescription. Clinical operations at the unit were fully functional by 10 am,” the release stated.
The SWRHA assured the public that dedicated and ample medical care was administered at the oncology unit with the inclusion of an acting head of department and senior medical officers ensuring that services continue effectively.
“To ensure our patients and staff continue to enjoy a safe environment, our health, safety and environment and operations teams continue to conduct a full assessment to identify and immediately address any further roof repairs required. These works will be conducted on the weekends to ensure minimal disruptions to service.
“The South-West Regional Health Authority takes this opportunity to express its gratitude to our dedicated staff for their immediate response and apologies for any inconvenience caused.”
ADDRESSING the Divali Nagar Saturday night, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar said that TT can provide an alternative to Bollywood/Nollywood Island Destination.
Impressed with the varying cultural productions of 1.3 million people, she told hundreds attending the celebrations that a UNC government would assist local creative productions to establish links with international studios, such as Disney World.
Outlining a UNC plan for the creative arts, Persad-Bissessar said US$50 million in foreign exchange, could be earned in the next five years. The Opposition Leader was feature speaker on the second night of the eight-day celebration. It was formally launched Friday evening
Ramleela and 'Christimas Joy' productions, Persad-Bissessar said, are examples of local productions for export. International studios are constantly in search of "new and original content." She expressed the view that Divali, Tobago Heritage Festival and Hosay are globally appealing. With local government elections weeks away (December 2), Persad-Bissessar made a case for developing the creative arts, saying the party she leads will develop a "Trini Creative Arts Street" in West Port of Spain.
She said, "We will invite private investors to establish a space within the western side of the capital city of Port of Spain, that will showcase major iconic themes from each other's countries that influence our rich and diverse culture."
Another UNC plan, Persad-Bissessar said, was establishing a "Carnival in a Box" franchise, for international markets. It will be in the form of a franchise, she explained, which would see our local musicians, bands, artistes, promotion and events management, being marketed to cities in first-world countries.
Persad-Bissessar said, "Market TT, as an alternative Bollywood/Nollywood Island destination."
She then went on to tell the audience the UNC had identified “12 prosperity engines, to engage the private sector." They will be: Brechin Castle Agro-processing Complex; Organic Sugar and Sucrose Derivative Manufacturing Facility; Tamana "Solar Tech" Renewable Energy Park; West Port of Spain "Trinidad Creative Arts" Street/Area; East Port of Spain Steelpan Manufacturing Facility; Piarco Aircraft Maintenance, Repair and Operations Hub; Cedros/Moruga Southwest Peninsula Economic Zone; Point Galeota Energy Logistics Hub; Plymouth International Cruise Ship/Marina; Tobago First Locally Branded Hotel.
THE head office of the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) in San Fernando has been burglarised. Up to late yesterday, members were yet to discover what, if anything was missing.
Chairman Gregory Fernandez told reporters, "It was quite a surprise and hopefully it has nothing to do with the attack on David Abdulah and the MSJ because it will send a very bad signal at the start of the election campaign. With this election season, it is possible. We cannot say what is missing."
He was speaking on behalf of the party.
Fernandez said at about 6 pm on Saturday, the MSJ leader secured the building and left.
At about 1 pm yesterday, Fernandez together with Abdulah and local government candidate for Goodwood/La Puerta, Kizzy Monsegue, discovered the Lord Street building broken into.
The MSJ executives arrived to host a press conference to officially respond to "malicious accusations" by Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal against Abdulah during his budget presentation.
Fernandez said the burglar-proof to a window at the front-side of the building was cut. It is believed the culprits entered a storage room through the window.
"We thought someone was here, called out and no one answered. Draws were ransacked. The draws had party and policy documents. We are not sure what they were looking for or what they were trying to achieve. We are hopeful police will find the culprits and deal with it."
Abdulah’s office was also ransacked.
In June, the office relocated from St Joseph Village in San Fernando.
The MSJ is preparing for the local government elections on December 2 and yesterday Abdulah left before the press conference started to attend a meeting.
The flood waters that followed the passage of Tropical Storm Karen have subsided but those affected continue to seek assistance. Stepping up to the assist is the local chapter of the international non-profit service organisation Sewa.
Volunteers of the group recently prepared food packages to distribute to residents in the Bamboo settlements and communities of Mt Lambert and Beetham. The packages were made possible through a partnership with the Supermarket Association and supermarkets.
Sharing some insight into the continued flood relief was chairperson of Sewa TT Revan Teelucksingh who said, “Our system is rescue and recovery first, followed by rehabilitation after.”
Revealing that the distribution of food packages was just the second part of the group’s efforts in the affected areas, he shared that the group also assisted in the immediate aftermath of the storm.
“Immediately after Tropical Storm Karen we created some cleaning packs and our volunteers helped target homes in need.” This effort resulted in over 300 cleaning packs being distributed to homes in needs and over 30 volunteers helping to assist those with disabilities clean their houses.
Questioned as to why the food packages were being distributed now, he said, “Normally we wait until everything is clean and settled before we provide food packs.”
“We can’t replace everything they lost but it is something they don’t have to worry about. It is one thing less that they have to buy in the grocery, and they can utilise that money to do something else.”
Teelucksingh says that Sewa TT has a core of 50 dedicated volunteers but in emergency situations their volunteer base can grown to an estimated 200. In the event of flooding emergencies, the group also has a truck provided by St Helena business Harrypersads and Sons and a boat by the Kalpee brothers.
“We have a truck and boat on standby just waiting to be called. In an emergency these people are awake for 48 hours just waiting to be called.”
“While people may think it was not a big deal for Karen and there were not major issues, we are still using the opportunity to practice so that when there is a major issue, we have the volunteers and systems.”
People interested in contributing to the group’s continued flood relief efforts can contact Teelucksingh at 686-6888.
UNC deputy political leader David Lee and Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal yesterday called on National Security Minister Stuart Young to repeat his comments about links to the criminal underworld and the UNC.
Speaking at the post-budget public forum at Piggott Corner, Belmont on Friday night, Young said there were senior UNC members colluding with criminals. He said he received a report on Friday that officials as high as the deputy political leader as well as senators are contacting criminals and are being told by them who the UNC should present as local government candidates.
There are three UNC deputy political leaders, Lee, Khadijah Ameen and Jearlean John – Ameen and John could not be reached for comment.
“If they are brave enough call my name. They like to sue I will show them who can sue. I dare them to come out and say is me,” Lee said as he vehemently denied that he had any dealings with criminals.
Young told the crowd that “a man with a name that is a day of the week” was hired at the Housing Development Corporation (HDC). Although not he did not call any name, Young was referring to Akido “Sunday” Williams who, last week, was charged with counselling a gang. Williams worked at HDC from 2010 to 2015 as a maintenance manager. During that time, Moonilal was housing minister and John, was the HDC managing director.
Moonilal when contacted yesterday said: “I challenge Stuart Young to call names. When I heard his comments about members of Parliament contacting criminal elements, I thought it was in poor taste because my mind went to Marlene Mc Donald and I thought it was insensitive of him to bring that up.”
McDonald – the PNM Port of Spain South MP – has been charged on public misconduct offences relating to her tenure as a government minister under the Patrick Manning administration.
Senior police yesterday confirmed there is an ongoing investigation into a connection between senior politicians and members of the criminal world.
At Friday night’s meeting, the Prime Minister, in the feature address, said: “I expect them to squeal like stuck pigs but let me tell you something, you may not see the reason but I know the reason why they (UNC) fought so hard against the anti-gang legislation. And now I'm hearing that they are having conversations with known people who have concerns with the police."
Rowley went on to allege that legislation would have shown the links between the UNC and criminals, so much so, that the UNC sought to dismiss the legislation. He added that had it not been for the country demanding that something be done about gangs then the UNC would not have called them back to Parliament to address the legislation.
WHENEVER it rains, residents of Greenvale Park, La Horquetta are driven into panic mode. They monitor weather patterns regularly, riverine alerts are their main source of information and weather forecasts to them, is top news.
Today marks one year since many of the residents lost their Housing Development Corporation (HDC) homes thanks to what the meteorological office said was a month’s worth of rainfall in two days. While their houses stand to this day, over 400 families lost their homes. Since October last year, Greenvale has not been home but the place they are forced to live. But what has been life after the flood in Greenvale?
“One year later, still feels like yesterday,” one resident told Sunday Newsday. “HDC say we good. Come sleep in Greenvale when the rain falls and tell us how comfortable you are after” Another said “Greenvale is not inhabited by animals! Is humans who have feelings.”
“If anyone said to me this area is known for flooding, if older folks who lived in the area since they young had said before hand, we use to go there and fish, I would have never signed any paper. I would (have) said keep it, but we never got that chance, so they can't say we did, I wasn't given the chance in case they told someone else” said a third resident.
One of the residents called on the Government to do better adding that they will “pay for their recklessness and wicked actions.” Another said Greenvale is for “frogs, fish and caiman.”
“You have no idea how petrified I get whenever rain falls or there is a yellow alert. When tropical storm Karen was here, I packed a bag and moved because I didn’t want to be around,” one woman told us. She lost all her belongings except her car since it was parked elsewhere during the flood.
She added that it is a psychological nightmare living in the area and hearing of rain, or worse hearing raindrops dancing on her roof. To her weather alerts are life and death situations.
[caption id="attachment_791864" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Children hug as they walk along a mud-stained street in Greenvale Park, La Horquetta on October 21, 2018. FILE PHOTO BY LINCOLN HOLDER -[/caption]
Her comments echoed that of Shernelle Boney-Joseph, a nurse who lost her new vehicle along with everything in her home. She recalled swimming through what smelled like sewage about five feet high, to get away from the flood.
“I have become somewhat of a meteorologist, she said. “I have studied it and learned all the terms. I have stuff in boxes that I am afraid to take out. Whenever rain falls, I get calls from family and friends offering help.”
Insurance agencies refusing coverage
After losing all her belongings, including a Toyota Aqua she bought in August last year, Boney-Joseph said her insurance company not only refused to insure her new vehicle, but her appliances as well. After returning to her original insurance dealer for coverage of her new car, Boney-Joseph was denied coverage based on her location.
“They said they not insuring anyone from Greenvale,” she related. “I went to three other insurance companies and all of them said the same thing from the time I mentioned where I from.”
The lack of empathy from insurance companies was not limited to Boney-Joseph as other residents also lamented the difficulties they endured in securing insurance for their vehicles.
One man said he was sent a letter via registered mail from his insurance company revoking his coverage following the flood. Other residents said after losing their vehicles it felt like another blow to their recovery. Having to now navigate the insurance landscape for a problem not caused by them.
Cost of repairs
Moving on since the flood has been expensive, both mentally and financially. The Ministry of Social Development gave out cheques to flood victims ranging between $15,000 and $20,000 depending on whether or not the tenants had children. Newsday emailed the Ministry in June to get a final cost for the cheques distributed but to date has received no response.
In March, Social Development Minister Cherrie-Ann Crichlow-Cockburn told the Senate that 18 people were charged with fraudulently receiving relief cheques. HDC also unearthed a few Greenvale “residents” who were not on their official records who also received cheques after homes they were occupying illegally illegally were flooded.
The monies spent by the Ministry of Works and Transport remain a mystery as well, after emails sent to the ministry requesting that information have gone unanswered since September. In April, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley along with Housing Minister Edmund Dillon and Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan and HDC officials toured Greenvale to assess ongoing work.
Last month, at the ceremonial opening of the Manuel Congo bridge, off the Tumpuna Road, Sinanan said dredging and rehabilitative works on the Caroni River have allowed the river to increase the capacity "to three times what it was before.” Greenvale borders on the Manuel Congo and Caroni Rivers.
In an emailed response to Sunday Newsday, HDC said they spent $63,030,443 on flood relief. This money includes repairs to affected homes, response efforts which included clean-up and other mitigating works.
Moving on or moving out?
According to the HDC, since the flooding, nine homeowners have requested relocation. “However, a policy decision was taken not to entertain any requests due to the fact that the HDC has implemented a number of mitigation initiatives which were expected to minimise the severe effects of any flooding in the community.”
HDC was also asked if they are satisfied with the work done to ensure there would be no more flooding and that Greenvale would be better equipped to handle such a disaster again. In response HDC said: “Before the start of the hurricane season the HDC implemented a number of mitigation initiatives in Greenvale Park. These include the raising of the containment berm to fully surround the community; raising of the berm and culvert, crossing the eastern access road; raising the roadways surrounding the community and constructing a road to connect La Horquetta South and Greenvale Park, which will be used an alternative exit route for residents. Work is currently underway on the construction and installation of an automated flood pumping station to ensure increased and more reliable pumping capacity at the detention ponds.”
HDC managing director Brent Lyons, in his hope to comfort residents, said he understood their unease adding that was the main reason HDC sought to complete the majority of the mitigation works by June 1, the beginning of the hurricane season.
[caption id="attachment_791866" align="alignnone" width="1024"] HDC managing director Brent Lyons and Greenvale resident Anthony Ragoo inspect cupboards in the kitchen of Ragoo's home after repairs by the HDC on January 10, 2019. FILE PHOTO/ROGER JACOB -[/caption]
Some of the residents have not been comforted by any of the work done by the state and have initiated a lawsuit. In their pre-action protocol letter, 81 residents accused HDC of being negligent and breaching its duty. According to the 19-page document, the HDC was reckless and in breach of its statutory duty in constructing the development on the flood plains of the Caroni River and did not inform them that they were getting homes in a flood prone area. The residents did not say how much they hoped to get from the HDC but are willing to discuss a settlement.
In response to the residents’ letter, HDC denied being reckless, negligent or breaching its duty to homeowners. HDC’s attorneys say residents accepted the units with the full knowledge that they were constructed on what is well known as the Caroni plain.
Greenvale in a nutshell
Greenvale was built in a known flood prone area despite concerns. In 2005, under the People’s National Movement (PNM) Town and Country Planning Division gave permission to develop the land and work began in 2007. In 2008, the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) gave “outline approval” along with the fire department.
On June 26, 2009, the division wrote to the HDC a “notice of refusal” on the grounds that the area was a floodplain of the Caroni River and that no development should take place there, but by this time houses had already been constructed.
On October 27, 2011, under the People’s Partnership (PP), HDC wrote to Town and Country telling them they had surveyed the area and made some suggestions that would mitigate flooding which included retention ponds, an embankment and installing pumps. On November 17, 2014, Town and Country granted approval to HDC to continue the project on the condition that the suggestions to mitigate flooding would be implemented. This was done.
The initial project was supposed to have been in five phases but phases four and five, which up to 2014 were not yet developed, were completely abandoned. Phases one and two were completed in 2014 and the third phase was finished in 2015. In September 2015, the PP demitted office following the general election.
[caption id="attachment_791865" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Boys enjoy a ride on a street in Greenvale Park on July 5, 2019 as normalcy returned to the community months after devastating flooding in October 2018. FILE PHOTO/ROGER JACOB -[/caption]
Distribution of homes took place from 2014 to 2016. The three phases were completed at a cost of $336 million which included the cost of retention ponds, pumps and embankments. Phases one and two were constructed by Motilal Ramhit and Sons Contracting Limited while phase three was done by Trinity Housing.
Following the flooding, a hydrological report was ordered by Rowley; “to determine why Greenvale was so heavily impacted and to determine what, if anything, can be done in terms of physical works to interfere with the drainage system, if not eliminate, but to ameliorate and bring greater comfort to those persons who live in that area.”
The findings of that report have not been made public, if at all completed.
Later, in October last year during a post flooding ceremony to receive 100 doors, HDC chairman Newman George said a contact for a comprehensive hydrological report was awarded to Alpha Engineering on November 6, 2017. The contract was to provide drainage design consultancy. Alpha’s recommendations were sent to HDC on October 18, the day before the floods. The details of the recommendation were not disclosed, but George then said it will be implemented sometime this year.
George said then that HDC knew there were some problems in the area and was trying to rectify the issue since 2017.
THE EDITOR: It is quite interesting that the Opposition Leader, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, took the time to present the UNC’s policies, should they assume office in 2020. However, as I listened to the roll-out of these policies, a sense of unease and concern took over. It will become quite apparent for both the layman and those … Continue reading Kamla’s faulty economic plan
THE EDITOR: This story from the PM about two assassins were hired to kill him in 2015 seems rather peculiar, by it being disclosed after four years when it was supposed to have taken place. In my opinion, it should be taken with a big pinch of salt. Let’s face reality. If any criminal here … Continue reading Bring the proof Mr PM
Consider two listings for land in areas assumed to be zoned primarily or exclusively for residential use by the Town and Country Planning Division (T&CPD): lot one, roughly 7,165 square feet in area, is just off the Eastern Main Road in Sangre Chiquito and listed for $340,000; and lot two, roughly 5,000 square feet, is on Gallus Street in Woodbrook and listed for $3,400,000.
The selling price of land per square foot in these two locations is roughly $47 and $680 respectively. A professional assessment of the lots may produce lower or higher values, but given the two locations, the huge observed differences are not unrealistic.
In his book Order Without Design, urban planner Alain Bertaud says, “The spatial expansion of cities requires land, but the final product of urbanization is floor space, not land. Because land is an indispensable input for the building of floor space, a high demand for floor space in a specific location increases the price of land at this location.”
However, when land costs increase, the housing market –in the absence of restrictive land use regulatory distortions – will respond by developers using land more efficiently. This first involves buildings having a larger footprint – and covering a larger percentage of the lot (building coverage) – and being built closer to, or at, the lot boundary lines (setbacks), and eventually being built taller.
Unfortunately, local land use regulations do not adequately consider the difference in land values.
Let us look at the extreme example in this case, lot three. It is in a neighbourhood that is within walking distance of the central business district of the capital city, employment and numerous amenities, and has well-developed infrastructure by national standards. In an urban planning sense, it is a no-brainer that we should be encouraging more people to live in places like this, and use the existing infrastructure – the roads, sidewalks, WASA pipes, TTEC lines – more efficiently.
The regulations at the T&CPD, based largely on a plan from 1987, dictate that one can build three, maybe four residential units on that lot of land.
If four units are built, the land alone would add a cost of $850,000 to each unit. Assuming a modest construction price of $600 per square foot, and a profit of 25 per cent for the developer – reasonable assumptions for no-frills construction, according to local quantity surveyor, Omar Thomas of OTA Consulting – a 1,000-square-foot apartment on this lot could be sold for $1,800,000. Of course, this is a simplification that doesn’t take into account financing and other costs to the developer.
Reformed land use regulations that considered the value of land, the cost of car ownership and long commutes, the relatively low average household income in this country, and the high upfront cost – and long-term maintenance liabilities – of extending infrastructure to undeveloped peripheral land, could drastically increase the supply, and reduce the cost, and therefore price of housing in desirable urban areas.
If ten units were built on that lot of land – assuming the same construction costs and profit – the developer could now sell a 1,000-square-foot unit for $1,175,000.
Shrinking the size of the unit to roughly 800 square feet, and building 20 units could drop that sale price to $812,500.
There is currently a local private-sector developer selling similar-sized units, using a multi-storey building model that is now being repeated all over the country due to its success.
Twenty apartment units on a 5,000-square-foot lot can be accomplished with a building footprint that takes up roughly 70-75 per cent of the lot, smaller or zero lot setbacks, and a height of a mere five storeys. The neighbourhood of Little Havana in Miami, a low- to mid-rise district adjacent to the high-rise downtown, allows for 200 dwelling units per acre, or roughly 23 units on a 5,000-square-foot lot.
Of course, with so many apartments on one lot of land, one must wonder where the cars will fit. They certainly cannot be accommodated onsite. In this instance, inter-agency collaboration could play a key role.
Coincidentally, Udecott is currently planning a series of projects meant to catalyse development activity in Port of Spain. It is being overseen by the Ministry of Planning and Development, under which the T&CPD falls.
Here’s a bit of free advice: advise Udecott to build multi-storey parking structures – possibly through PPP arrangements – in strategic locations around the city.
If one were to be built in Woodbrook for instance, T&CPD could plan, in tandem with Udecott, to have all of the lots within a given walking distance of the parking structure rezoned to allow for a higher intensity of residential units per lot, and a removal of all onsite parking requirements. It's a strategy that has proven to be a winner in many jurisdictions.
Ryan Darmanie is a professional urban planning and design consultant, and an avid observer of people, their habitat, and the resulting socio-economic and political dynamics. You can connect with him at darmanieplanningdesign.com or e-mail him at email@example.com