The Aruka River continues to eat away at the nearby Kumaka waterfront, in the Mabaruma sub-region of Region One, where new revetments have started to sink into the river.
The community has been threatened by the river for several years and sometime in July last year, the Public Works Ministry via the regional administration mobilized equipment and material for work on revetments, which began later in the year.
A vendor at Kumaka told this newspaper that the authorities had empoldered a section of the community and several piles were driven into the ground near the waterside. The woman, who asked not to be named, said that persons in the area, knowledgeable about such construction works, informed the project managers that the piles needed to be driven more inland, while others noted that the piles needed to be strapped. It was noted too that the equipment used to drive the piles into the earth malfunctioned soon after it arrived at Kumaka.
She said that sometime in November last year works to the area came to a standstill and sometime later the project continued but with several interruptions. “The men were working on and off and it appears that it’s a lot of magic was being promoted because we were told that under this waterfront area is very shallow,” the woman noted.
The area is the central business district of the Mabaruma Sub-Region and another member of the business community there related that sometime during the latter part of December last year, residents observed the revetments placed at the waterfront “falling in and we thought to ourselves this is what you get for a waste of money and limited planning.”
The area has been left unattended since the end of last year and it was noted recently by residents that the entire works undertaken there will soon disappear into the Aruka River.
The eroded section of the area encompasses more than 200m of the width of the waterfront, including the old Transport and Harbours Department wharf as well as the Kumaka Marketing Corporation wharf, where the ferry, MV Kimbia, usually moors whenever the vessel travels to the area. Residents told this newspaper this week that they feared the ferry may not be able to offload goods at Kumaka in the near future as the river continues to encroach on the area.
When contacted last week, the regional administration’s office at Mabaruma directed this newspaper to contact Regional Chairman Fermin Singh, who was said to be the best person to comment on the issue. However, he was not in the area.
This newspaper was told by persons at Kumaka that the waterfront will always be threatened by the natural force of the water, since the small business hub is located along the sides of the river around a bend. “So you have the water always pushing against Kumaka waterfront because of the turn and with each passing day it will get worse,” a resident told Stabroek News.
This newspaper was also told that controversy brewed when the project was in its initial phase late last year, since earth which was being used to backfill the area, was collected from private lands without the permission of the owners, who were overseas.
Reports are that the owners travelled to Guyana after being informed of the situation and subsequently took legal action against the authorities for the removal of earth from lands in the Mabaruma area, which belong to them. In 2009, residents had voiced concerns that the Aruka River was rapidly encroaching on the land. Persons in the community told Stabroek News that the problem was recognized several years ago when sections of the community, especially the northern part of Kumaka, came under a lot of water whenever the tide rose.