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WASA pokes holes in homeowner’s case
A Princes Town homeowner, who claimed that a leaking water line caused his home to sink 20 feet in two years, has admitted that he did not have planning permission to construct his four-storey home.
Darwin Sahadath, a secondary school teacher, made the admission before Justice Vasheist Kokaram in the Port-of-Spain High Court during the second day of his trial against the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA).
Under cross-examination from WASA’s attorney Keston McQuilkin, Sahadath admitted that he had only received permission to build a two-storey house from the Town and Country Division.
Asked whether the foundation plans he initially supplied to the division were used by his contractor, Sahadath said no. He was also quizzed by McQuilkin on how he knew that water saturation on his property was caused by a leaking pipeline. Sahadath said he merely made assumptions based on what he and his neighbour observed.
McQuilkin also referred to a letter between former Princes Town MP Nizam Baksh and the Princes Town Regional Corporation in which he (Baksh) requested assistance for Sahadath for landslip at the back of his home.
Sahadath, who is claiming that the slow-moving landslide started from the front of the sloping property, said Baksh had made an error.
McQuilkin also suggested that water saturation in his property could have been caused by surface water runoff as a drain at front of his home was damaged by sinkholes that formed in the road. Sahadath said it was possible.
Also testifying yesterday, was Sahadath’s expert Aldwyn Wharton, of Geoengineering Consultants Ltd, whom he hired to survey the landslip in 2015.
Wharton conducted tests on the soil at the property but admitted that he could not say whether the water saturation and landslide were caused by the WASA pipeline.
In their lawsuit, Sahadath and his wife Kamalar are claiming that WASA was negligent as it failed to fix the pipeline at Iere Village Branch Road, Princes Town, between 2012 and 2014.
They claimed they did not experience any landslides when constructing the house between 2004 and 2010 and only began experiencing the issue in 2012 after cracks and sinkholes filled with water in them, developed along the road in front of their house.
Through their lawsuit, the couple is seeking a little over $2 million, which represents the value of the property inclusive of demolition costs. They are also seeking repayment of the $5,000 monthly rent they have been paying since they were forced to abandon the property in March 2015, as well as damages for emotional distress, discomfort and loss of enjoyment of their property.
The Sahadaths are being represented by Larry Lalla and Vikash Lal, while Roshini Balkaran also appeared for WASA.