Blocked, broken kokers blamed for city’s flooding

A broken koker door is to be blamed for the flash flooding that occurred in Albouystown, Georgetown on Saturday last, resulting in the streets in the ward being under some six inches of water.

City Councillor Malcolm Ferreira, who has responsibility for the wards of Albouystown and Charlestown, detailed his experience to his fellow councillors at Monday’s statutory meeting of the Council as follows:

Mayor Patricia Chase Green

“On Saturday night into Sunday morning, I saw the level of water started to come up in Albouystown; but in Charlestown it remained how it was. I went to the koker and, unfortunately, I was told by the attendant that the door wasn’t closed properly; and this was like around 2:30 in the morning, and you could see the water bubbling, and the place started to become flooded even though there was no heavy rainfall.”

Ferreira was seeking clarity from City Engineer Colvern Venture, who related that he had been aware of the situation but did not know it had resulted in flooding.

“That (the situation with the door not closing properly) was reported to me by the foreman, and he reported that the door was not closing; and I did indicate to him to monitor the situation and report if the water affects persons; and he did not report back to me, so I assumed the water was contained to the drain,” Venture explained.

Councillor Malcolm Ferreira

Expressing her dissatisfaction at the incident, Mayor Patricia Chase-Green explained that she became aware that two pumps in the city were not functioning after an inspection had been carried out on May 1. She said that upon her inspection she discovered that the Kingston Pump had not been working for a number of weeks, and another pump at Princess Street, Albouystown was also not functioning.

She added that she informed Town Clerk Royston King and City Engineer Colvern Venture of what she had discovered, and the City Engineer indicated to her that he was not receiving the support of his officers.

“After I would have visited the pumps and kokers, things that could not have been done in weeks (were) done within 48 hours… But what I am saying (is) that it should not have been brought to this level after weeks — that these officers are given tasks to ensure that this work was done,” she said.

“I would like to ask that this matter be deferred to the Human Resource Management Committee, where some disciplinary action should be taken. Why should we wait for someone senior to visit these pumps for action to be taken to have them working? It is unfortunate, and the persons (who) suffer are the citizens,” Chase-Green added.

City Engineer Venture, however, informed the Council that all the pumps and sluices are now fully functional. “The forestry (Kingston) pump: there were some issues with the batteries, and that was corrected; the Princess Street pump: that pump was out of operation since the 26th of January, 2017 because a piece of wood went into the propeller and it caused severe damages to several components of the pump. And we were able to receive those components in April, and since then we were working to have that pump working,” he related.

“In addition to that, there was an issue with the Cowan Street (Kingston) sluice. That sluice was out of operation for a few weeks, and that was fixed on May 6, and all the sluices and pumps are in operation,” Venture informed.

Town Clerk Royston King, explaining that he was aware of the issue of officers not executing their duties, said he had brought the matter to the attention of the Human Resources Manager, and that disciplinary action would be taken.

“I have already instructed the Human Resources Manager, and I have fixed a special HR meeting for the following Tuesday (May 23), to have those officers placed before that committee to answer charges of negligence,” he said. Sometime in March, Mayor Chase-Green had warned the City Engineer (Venture) to take control of his department, or the Council would be forced to take action.