Residents of Ruimzeight, West Coast Demerara (WCD), can rest assured that the ongoing sea-defence works in the area will not jeopardize their livelihoods. This assurance was given by Chief Sea and River Defence Officer, Kevin Samad, according to the Department of Public Information (DPI).
Samad was responding to reports which surfaced in the media that claimed residents of Ruimzeight were concerned that the sea defence works would result in the clearing of vegetation along the shoreline. The Sea and River Defence Officer stated there was no need for alarm since the work being conducted will protect the adjacent communities from flooding.
According to DPI, Samad explained that between Harlem to Ruimzeight there was no solid sea defence structure and over the years these areas have been protected by an earthen embankment and mangrove forests which reduced the erosive impact of high energy waves on the foreshore.
Within the last five years, the Ruimzeight/Crane area has experienced severe erosion of the foreshore which has resulted in progressive depletion of the mangrove fringe. This erosion has resulted in an unprecedented low-lying foreshore which has left the area subject to intense wave action; increasing the susceptibility of the earthen embankment to breaches during the spring tide periods, DPI said.
According to Samad, following continuous monitoring of the area, the Ministry took the proactive decision to undertake the permanent riprap works. “This structure was designed to provide adequate levels of flood protection for a minimum period of 30 years and caters for sea level rise. There will be minimal overtopping and therefore no flooding upon completion of the project,” he underlined.
The scope of the project covers the construction of 860 metres of riprap works, which are essentially engineered rock armour sloping structures. The project which is 65 percent complete is nationally funded.
Samad also stated the Ministry implemented a comprehensive Community Education and Awareness Programme during 2014 – 2015 under Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and Government’s US$30.9M, Sea and River Defence Resilience Project. Through the programme, residents of Ruimzeight, as well as Crane/Mary, were updated on the environmental and social issues relevant to a project that will be implemented in their communities, DPI reported.
The CDB funded Sea and River Defence Resilience Project will see the reconstruction and improvement of approximately 5.4 km of sea and river defences in eight critical areas and will benefit over 45,000 residents in Regions Two, Three, Four and Six.