PORT OF SPAIN –– Operations at San Fernando City Corporation’s Carib Street Works Department got off to a late start today, after a sinkhole appeared in the parking lot, causing evacuation of workers.
The hole which measured more than 60 feet in depth, was observed on Saturday when a truck got stuck in the sinking asphalt. General secretary of the Contractors and General Workers Trade Union, Ermine De Bique-Meade, said the hole was believed to be part of an underground water system that dates back to 1898.
The infrastructure is believed to have been used by the city to provide access to clean drinking water and electricity. Expressing concern for the safety of workers, De Bique-Meade said there were two other sinkholes
on the site, which had been capped.
She also expressed concerns that the new Works building, which is currently under construction, could also be in danger of collapse.
“We want engineers and geologists to come and conduct proper tests before any further work is done on that building,” De Bique-Meade said.
She said the drivers who were affected by the sinkhole were transferred to Skinner Park facility.
“Contractors who came to work on these two sections on Saturday were alarmed because while they were removing the hiab [truck] the vehicle started to sink. They removed the truck and put a barrel but it was also sinking. They excavated around the area and in the excavation we realized that the hole was filled with water,” De Bique-Meade said.
A sewerage truck was used to pump the water out of the hole but after extracting eight loads of water, De Bique-Meade said they realized the hole was actually a well. A private contractor was then hired to pump out the water but the hole kept refilling.
De Bique-Meade said 20 trucks were removed from the yard and sent to Skinner Park. A shuttle was arranged to take the workers to their various stations. Initially, De Bique-Meade said the workers planned to cover the hole with a steel plate and pave over it with asphalt but this plan was later abandoned as the hole grew larger.