The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) funded US$30.9M Sea and River Defence Resilience project which was launched in 2016, will advance this year, according to the Department of Public Information (DPI).
The project is expected to provide for the reconstruction and improvement of approximately 5.4 km of sea and river defences in eight critical areas, in Regions Two, Three, Four and Six.
In an interview with the DPI, Chief Sea and River Defence Officer, Kevin Samad said at the end of 2017 contracts were awarded for two Lots of works, under the programme.
He explained that Lot One caters for work along the Johanna Cecelia, Essequibo Coast and at Success and Endeavour, Leguan Island. Lot Two, however, caters for work at Crane, West Coast Demerara which will see 1200 meters of riprap construction being installed. Currently, rehabilitative works have commenced and are ongoing at Crane.
According to Samad, a database has been established containing all the critical areas identified for upgrades. Some of these include Zeelandia, Belle Plaine and Leguan in Essequibo, Canefield and Crabwood Creek in Berbice and areas on the West and East Bank Demerara. These projects will run concurrently with other programmes catered for in the 2018 budget which are nationally funded, DPI reported.
“In 2018, we have a budgeted approval of G$1.3B from which G$900M will go towards capital works and G$400M for maintenance. Its capital budget is smaller than 2017 allocation which is because the CDB US$30M programme is currently on stream. But we have an increase in the maintenance budget, which is a key element in extending the life of existing structure. At this point, we have already tendered works under the capital programme and we expect works to commence by the end of February 2018,” Samad underlined.
Given that most of Guyana’s population resides in communities that lie below sea level, proper sea and river defence structures remain critical. Samad noted that over the years, it has been a challenge to maintain or preserve the mangroves vegetation. It is especially challenging with the advent of various illegal activities such as cattle rearing and cutting of mangroves for various reasons.
Nevertheless, “we are aware of the impacts of climate change and sea level rise and we have factored in sea level rise in our designs of all coastal and riverain structures,” the Sea and River Defence Officer explained.