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La Brea residents under siege
In a remote community in La Brea, residents enforced a self-imposed curfew long before a state of emergency was declared in the country. The action was not prompted by crime, but rather an infestation of caimans and mosquitoes that have invaded Lodge and Victor streets, affecting some 30 families. The haven for the reptiles and mosquitoes are large ponds that have consumed the road leading to the Lodge Street community, creating swamp-like surroundings. The ponds were once holes, but as the years passed and residents’ cries for help went unanswered, the holes grew larger, the road became overgrown with bush and was eventually condemned.
Pointing to the largest pond which is directly in front of her unfenced yard, Kim Mike, 32, said: “About ten years ago a man drowned in that pond. That is just to tell you how deep it is.” Numerous complaints to the authorities have fallen on deaf ears, she said, adding: “I am scared for me and my family. I have three children and a stepson. There are many toddlers and young children in this area. People have been attacked but no one has been bitten as yet.” She said the area was poorly lit and the drainage was “in a mess,” making it easier for the caimans to sneak around unnoticed. As a result, she said, most residents are afraid to venture out in the night.
Mike, who is six months pregnant, also complained that the ponds were breeding grounds for mosquitoes. “Right now the government talking about eliminating mosquito breeding grounds and none of them trying to help us here,” she charged. Mike said the mosquito repellents and nets were not helping. “When Cepep was here, before they stop it, they use to do a nice job in cleaning up the bush,” she added. Her husband Marlon Thompson said a few years ago they threw concrete slabs into the large pond to close it, but it “swallow it up.” Recalling her frightening encounter with the caiman, Mike’s daughter Kadisha Francis, 12, said she was walking over a makeshift bridge across the pond when she slipped. “When it hear the movement it dive in the pond. I am afraid of them. I don’t pass there again. I want them to kill the caimans.”
Another resident Kibo Joseph, who was also snapped at by the caiman, said they were advised by a local government official to organise some building material to put in the ponds. The materials were organised, but nothing was done. Joseph also complained to La Brea MP Fitgerald Jeffery who advised him to write a letter. Another resident Kenneth Williams said the root cause of the ponds was a ruptured water line and a spring. “The authorities did nothing and now in the night we hearing the caimans fighting and bawling funny. And if you see my three-year-old grand daughter skin, I feel so sorry for her. Is mosquito bite all over, endless mosquitoes,” he said.
MPs trying to help
La Brea MP Fitzgerald Jeffrey said he had written several letters to the Siparia Regional Corporation and the then Ministry of Works and Transport about the situation, but had gotten no favourable response. Under the present administration, he said, his constituents continue to suffer. “But I will continue to beg. I will continue to write and fight until something is done. But I feel their pain and other streets also have problems with drainage and roads.” Rousillac/Otaheite councillor Chandra Ramadharsingh promised to send two URP crews to clean up the area.
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