Mahaica under threat in face of compromised sea defense; residents fear massive flooding

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By Kurt Campbell

Part of the breached Sea Defence. [iNews' Photo]
Part of the breached Sea Defense. [iNews’ Photo]
[www.inewguyana.com] – Residents of Mahaica, East Coast Demerara, particularly the Unity area are fearful of a possible massive flood destroying their livelihood, in wake of the present breaches of the sea defense (seawall) in the area.

iNews visited the area on Monday (January 6) where several large holes and cracks were visible. Residents also alerted the media to the destruction the breaches which were identified a few days ago have caused. Severe erosion of the land nearby could also be seen.

One resident told iNews that the situation is so worrisome that she is kept awake at nights in fear that the structure could break further, which will result in flooding.

“I can’t sleep at nights, right now I have a bottle of vigorex that I’m drinking to sleep and that isn’t even helping. I’m afraid and the government needs to do something,” the woman lamented.

Workers from the Ministry of Public conducting remedial works (filling the holes with sand bags). [iNews' Photo]
Workers from the Ministry of Public conducting remedial works (filling the holes with sand bags). [iNews’ Photo]
According to A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) Member of Parliament and shadow Works Minister, Joseph Harmon the current situation further adumbrates the point made during the National 2013 Budget debate that monies allocated for works of critical sea defense ($143.3M) is wholly inadequate.

The APNU MP, who was present at the time of the visit said “citizens cannot be comfortable with that form of allocation and this is why we said that the funds were insufficient.”

He reiterated the risk at which those persons’ in the area livelihood now rest. “Look at this crumbling wall; we are calling on the government again to ensure that sea defense gets the quality of allocation it needs… this is not politics and we cannot afford to play games with citizens livelihood,” Harmon added.

Workers from the Ministry of Public works could be seen on site this morning conducting remedial works (filling the holes with sand bags) in an effort to mitigate the effects. But even this came under criticism; according to residents this has been the response of the ministry to all reports of this nature. They claim that the work that is being done is not sufficient and certainly not sustainable. One man said the breaches are ‘more than what meets the eye’ and suggested that a new wall may be needed.

A section of the Mahaica community which is under threat. [iNews' Photo]
A section of the Mahaica community which is under threat. [iNews’ Photo]
Harmon also criticized the response of the Works Ministry. He said the manpower on the ground, which ranged between five to six persons, were not enough. He committed to engaging the subject minister, Robeson Benn on the matter in the hope of a long term and speedy resolution.

“Most of these people who live here do fishing and it would be a travesty for the same source from which they gained their livelihood to come and take it away from them,” Harmon told reporters.

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