Acting City Engineer Lloyd Alleyne says that the Cummings Canal koker door failed last week Tuesday because of extremely high tides and not through the negligence of the koker attendant.
“If that door was not properly closed, we would have had evidence of waters coming onto the land before 4:30pm,” Alleyne told a news conference yesterday.
He also said that there was adequate information given by the various responsible agencies, which issued a warning to nearby residents to take the necessary precautions, since extremely high tides were expected.
Up to yesterday morning, Alleyne revealed, the new door was assembled, bolted and one side was tarred. He added that a crane from BK International was acquired yesterday morning to continue tarring the other side and he said it is hoped that by this morning or this afternoon all the components would be attached to the door for it to be put in place.
After the sluice gate at the canal collapsed last Tuesday, residents of the surrounding areas watched in despair as water levels in the Lamaha Street canal and others rose rapidly. Many streets, yards and compounds were inundated, including those of the State House and the Ministry of Finance.
The koker attendant had stated that the door broke around 5pm last Tuesday, after which water from the Demerara River rushed through nearby areas.
Transport Minister Robeson Benn had told the National Assembly that the koker was breached as a result of negligence. “It was not closed for a second time in a year because of negligence by the operator,” he said, while adding that the breach had nothing to do with the strength or age of the koker door.
According to Alleyne, the municipality, in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Works, took all the necessary actions prior to the breach.
He noted that on the Sunday before, visits were made to the various kokers by the leading hands and engineers responsible for drainage to ensure that if there was no heavy rainfall, the koker doors would be closed at least one hour early, so that if anything happened there would be enough time to take the preliminary actions.
Alleyne further stated that after the breach, a temporary barrier was installed as an emergency precaution. Arrangements were then made the next day with the help of the Ministry of Works and the engineers of the Demerara Harbour Bridge to acquire 17 pieces of 12×3 greenheart wood from a supplier in Parika to build a new koker door, he added. The wood, he said, was not available from sawmills in Georgetown, hence the need to source it from Parika. He also said that as a result of a problem with the wood cutting machine, the wood had to be transferred to another location in order for it to be cut.
Alleyne further stated that all the sluice gates are checked on a yearly basis. Last Saturday, he noted, he personally supervised the works done to the forestry sluice door. He also said they have started to carry out exercises where the hydro pumps and sluice gates are being checked in preparation for the May/June rains.
Mayor of Georgetown Hamilton Green has apologised on behalf of the municipality for the flooding and has assured the general public that it was no deliberate act that caused the situation. He added that they are hoping to have measures put in place to avoid future recurrences.
On February 6, this year, the Cummings koker was left partially opened, resulting in flooding in several areas of the city. In June last year, a similar situation occurred when the koker attendant left it open.