The residents and business owners at Stelling Road Vreed-en-Hoop, West Coast Demerara, are calling on the authorities to have the sea defences upgraded or repaired so as to prevent flooding whenever the tide is high.
When Stabroek News visited the area on Friday there was evidence of work being undertaken on the breaches with workmen driving planks into the ground and creating a makeshift wall of sandbags.
Efforts to establish which authority had authorized these works proved futile.
The residents and business owners have been complaining of serious flooding, when the water level rises above fifteen inches at high tide and overtops the seawall.
They said the seawall from the Vreed-en-Hoop Stelling to Best Village is crumbling in sections and cannot keep the water from inundating the land. They described the water gushing on the roadway like a running stream during high tide.
Stelling Road businesswoman, Kiran Singh, told Stabroek News that at times she would be in bed at home in Goed Fortuin WBD, and persons in the area would call to tell her that the water had overtopped the seawall and her store was flooded. She would then have to go out and look after it.
Singh said that whenever her clothing store is flooded she suffers major losses, because it spoils much of her stock. “We does loose plenty money because of the flood,” she said, “because when the water come in here it does stay and we can’t get it out because the yard is more low than the road and all that water does drain in we yard.”
Former PNC parliamentarian Mervin Williams of the Vreed-en-Hoop area told Stabroek News in a telephone interview that the entire sea defence system from Vreed-en-Hoop to Best Village, WCD needed to be repaired urgently.
An article published in Stabroek News’s edition of May 21 captioned, ‘Fed up with flooding, Vreed-en-Hoop secondary teachers want school moved,’ attracted Williams’s attention, and he commented, “If the school is removed it will be a logistical disaster.”
The former parliamentarian said that since 1998 flooding had been hindering development at the Vreed-en-Hoop Secondary School and that was all because of the dilapidated sea defences. He explained that the breach in the wall created by the residents of Plastic City at the back of the school was a necessary one, because it offered relief to them during high tide. He said that the breach acted like a koker for those residents who lived in deplorable conditions.
Williams told Stabroek News that not only the school was affected but other public buildings such as the post office and police station as well. His view was that instead of the Ministry of Education proposing to build a concrete wall around the school compound which would serve no purpose, they should come together with the Ministry of Public Works and channel all of that money to reconstructing the current sea defences that protect the area.
“The government should consider extending and expanding the European Union (EU) funded sea defence project to Vreed-en-Hoop Stelling all the way to Best Village, and that will address the issue,” he said.
Williams suggested that the Ministry of Public Works identify the breaches and evaluate them so that they could start making adequate preparations to have those sealed. He went on to say that the value of the properties in that area was steadily declining because of the floods, despite the fact that it’s a prime business location.
“There was a Chicken House location right at the junction where Lucky Dollar Store is and because of the constant flooding they were forced out of business because the water would damage their equipment,” Williams noted.
Efforts to secure a comment from Minister of Public Works Robeson Benn for our May 21 report on the flooding had been to no avail.
Also complaining of property devaluation was businessman Randy (only name given), who said that he is about to sell his property but no one was willing to pay the amount of money it is actually worth, the prime reason being the constant flooding.
Resident Tiger Chunilall said that he had been living in the area for over twenty years and they had been experiencing this level of flooding every time the seawall overtopped and it was becoming unbearable. He added that they had made numerous complaints to the authorities but the only response they got was promises.
“Awe carry letters to the ministry and the Minister secretary say that he nah deh and collect we letter and say she gon give it to he, but unto now awe ah wait and meh gon wait till me dead, but we gon still get flood every time,” Chunilall said.