Over 120 rice farmers’ crops ruined due to breach at Mahaicony

One of the breached sea dam

– Govt commences corrective work, will take time to fix

Over 120 rice farmers in several villages in Mahaicony are beginning to count their losses as a result of Saturday’s breach of the sea defence in that area.

Up to late Sunday evening, farmers were assessing their losses and have blatantly blamed the Government for not addressing the erosion crisis in the area which was brought to their attention a few months ago.

The farmers have related that they would have invested their money in the present rice cultivation and due to the salt water, hundreds of acres of rice will be destroyed. Some farmers who rear cattle and poultry are also fuming since their lands are under salt water.

Speaking with INews on Sunday, Regional Chairman Vickchand Ramphal explained that the situation remains the same since the breach on Saturday. He noted that although Central Government has responded in a timely manner, the salt water has already caused millions of dollars in damages.

One of the breached sea dam

In addition, he noted that close to 120 farmers will be affected while recalling that the Minister turned a blind eye on the situation when the matter of erosion was first highlighted. Ramphal noted that it is not only one area that has been affected but highlighted that along the coast, between Unity Village to Mahaica River, there have been several breaches.

The breaches, he noted, is as a result of high tides and heavy downpours. Nevertheless, he did recall Central Government pumping $100 million to fix one of the breaches. Although those farmers on the north of the public road, in the direction of the seawalls, have been severely affected, those on the other side are not yet heavily affected.

Salt water moving in on farmlands

Areas such as De Hoop, Cottage and Mahaica Creek will eventually be affected if the rains continue since the main drainage to those areas is breached. Speaking with one of the affected farmers on Sunday, Chatram told this publication that half of his 30 acres of rice has been under salt water.

He stated that other farmers would have lost acres of rice and the possibility exists that they might lose more if the salt water continues to pour into the farmlands. He is optimistic that they will have some relief soon but has already started to count his losses.

On this note, the Regional Chairman noted that it will take a few weeks to fix the breach since the materials to do so will have to be transported by sea. “Materials cannot be transported by land…the only way this could be done [is] if there are several days of sun”, he added.

Meanwhile, the Government stated that affected residents between Broomhall and Danzigt can breathe a sigh of relief.

One of the areas that work has been done

Sea and River Defence Officer within the Public Infrastructure Ministry, Kevin Samad in a release revealed that the dam spanning close to 125 metres at Danzigt has been breached.

He admitted that erosion has led to the flooding of some of the rice and pasture lands. This, he added, has attributed to heavy rains and the Bellamy Canal being at full capacity. Nevertheless, water is receding into both Bellamy and connecting canals.

Corrective measures that have been implemented include the full operation of the Bellamy sluice to drain water into the Mahaica River. This system is most functional at the low tide periods to ensure maximum efficiency.

Additionally, the Public Infrastructure Ministry has mobilised 2000 tons of boulders to areas most affected along the sea dam between Prospect and Broomhall. On Sunday, an additional 1000 tons was dispatched to Danzigt and on Wednesday, another 1000 tons will be delivered to the affected area.

With respect to the direct assistance given to rice farmers, a long boom excavator was mobilised to assist rice farmers to reinforce dams around their rice fields to prevent intrusion. On Tuesday, a second excavator is expected to be dispatched to the affected areas to bring relief to the farmers.

For 2019, the Ministry awarded a contract to construct a permanent rip rap defence for the Prospect area. It is from this project that some boulders will be diverted to Danzigt to fully seal the breached section.

Nevertheless, a tender will be opened at NPTAB on Tuesday to construct 350 metres of rip rap structure between Prospect and Broomhall.

Meanwhile, corrective works have been affected by heavy rains over the past few of days.