The Commonality of Astro Turf and Flooding

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By Alicia Chamely

WHAT do flooding and Astro Turf have in common?

Without any context, you would say they are completely unrelated.

Unless of course, you live in Trinidad and Tobago. A magically little island where two completely different things weave together to tell a bewildering narrative as to how things work here.


Firstly, let us look at the flooding that occurred in northern Trinidad and Port-of-Spain.

This flooding is nothing new. This happens yearly, which is why I am surprised that people were in shock and awe, as if this never occurs.

Why do these areas flood religiously? It’s simple, in the case of Maraval and St Ann’s, the original drainage infrastructure has never been properly upgraded to deal with the increase of population over the years. Thanks to the sleeping parties at Town and Country, more housing developments go up, changing the natural landscape without altering the existing drainage plans.

Hillsides are stripped bare, watercourses are rerouted and we magically expect surges in rainwater to follow the path of old, too small, unmaintained water ways. That making any sense to you.

Downtown Port-of-Spain, same thing, it floods every year and still nothing of any substance is done. We do on the rare occasions get tiny glimpses of hope when our leaders of the day talk about retention ponds and drainage projects. Most unfortunately those ideas only get thrown around during elections or very shortly thereafter when the elected official assures his/her constituents that they made the right choice in the voting booth.

The reality is, unless someone feels motivated enough to actually do the hard work of maintaining and upgrading our drainage systems, flooding will continue to be an annual occurrence across Trinidad.

I do suppose it is easier to write relief cheques than to take on a project that will require significant investment and may make some people unhappy in the short term.

This now brings me to Astro Turf.

We learned this week the Mayor of Port-of-Spain had received a proposal for engaging in a public/private partnership project for the revitalisation of Nelson Mandela Park. For a cool $20 million, all natural grass would be replaced with ultra-modern, super durable Astro Turf.

People lost their shiz.

Nobody likes to part with natural flora and fauna, but have you seen the state of our nation’s sports grounds? They are awful.

Half the year they are barren desserts, consisting of primarily concrete hard-dry earth, some scattered crispy bush, broken glass and other random surprises that may include old condoms, rubber slippers, dog crap etc. Having played Rugby in the Queens Park Savannah in my youth (told ya I was scrappy), I can tell you dry season is the worst and I still have scars from random gravel and untamed pickah patches.

The other half of the year, they are bogs. Muddy swamps that are at times are completely unusable. If they do get used, be prepared to be eaten alive by mosquitos, step on some litter than has been camouflaged in shin high grass and again be prepared to go home with at least ten pickah in you.

Had our nation’s sports grounds been properly maintained, I am sure this Astro Turf idea would have not come around.

The issue for me isn’t so much the proposed Astro Turf, its used widely internationally and has a good deal of benefits; my issue is if the Port-of-Spain City Corporation has $20 million to spend, why hasn’t it been used to maintain and upgrade our existing outdoor spaces?

We are blessed to have so much public parks and recreation facilities, but like most things in T&T they are left to over grow and fall apart.

Here’s the connection between flooding and Astro Turf, neither would be an issue if the Government, of past and present, had put in the work and money, to repair, maintain and upgrade our exisisting infrastructure and public facilities.

Tada! Two random issues, one common problem.

Flooding and Astro Turf together, represent the shortfalls of our nation’s leaders in the maintenance and enhancement of our national infrastructure.



One thought on “The Commonality of Astro Turf and Flooding

  1. Can we get some Climate Actions Awareness public service announcements / education please

    As you say, flooding because people mistakenly think they are stronger than nature.
    Your park is suffering because it is already dead of eco-diversity….slapping a roll of plastic grass is not going to keep the dog poop off.

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