Lethem residents concerned about drainage in commercial area

While a lot of construction is going on in the recently commissioned commercial area at Lethem, some residents are expressing concerns over the drainage system in the area.

The fence end of the culvert including the natural drain.

A contractor was engaged to construct roads and drains in the area, but work had to be halted temporarily because of the inclement weather.

Stabroek News on a recent visit saw a drain running the whole length of the area. This drain turns west at the southern boundary and passes under the main road through a culvert. The drain then goes along a narrow ditch for approximately 15 feet and comes to an abrupt end at a fence.

Based on reports, Stabroek News decided to visit the area just after a heavy shower two  Saturdays ago.

The drain along the southern boundary of the Commercial Area.

Water  was above its normal level because of the rain and was rushing along the drain, which widens at the southern boundary, and struggling to get under the road through the narrow culvert. This resulted in a buildup of water along the culvert wall. Once the water got to the other side of the culvert, it sped along the narrow drain and pounded the fence relentlessly.

The water then parted left and right at the point of impact at the fence, flooding yards on both sides.

Stabroek News spoke with David Harris, the owner of the lot whose  fence was being battered. Harris said that he was allocated the lot in 1996 by the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CHPA), and he proceeded to build almost immediately.

He said that the commercial area is a recent development but it is being given priority over residents who have been settled there for a considerable period.

One of the yards affected by floodwaters.

“When I done build, the commercial area was no where in sight,” Harris said. However,  the situation used to be worse as water actually was entering his house, forcing him to use sandbags and gravel to divert some of the flow while  acting as a wall.

“But when rain fall like this, there is nothing more I could do,” he said. He now wonders how much more battering his fence can withstand before it collapses. “I wonder who is going to pay me for all the misery I am faced with. I cannot be comfortable when it rains,” Harris lamented.

Efforts to stem the flow of the water.

Meanwhile, some residents blame the situation on the lack of consultation with the locals.  A source declared  that residents are now exposed to many discomforts as a result of the failure to consult them. The source said the area where the water is exiting the culvert should not have been issued as lots. He said that the area was a natural drain for water coming off the airstrip and other higher areas. He noted too that the water runs along a natural drain right into the Tabatinga Creek, adding that  from the area of impact to where the water enters the creek is approximately one mile. Lots along this natural drain should not have been issued but  should have been held in reserve for drainage purposes.

There are houses all along this natural drain and many of the lots were under at least a foot of water while others were soggy.

Harris wondered whether an  environmental assessment had been  carried out for a project of this magnitude.

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