West Coast Demerara residents are satisfied with the sea defence rehabilitation works but say that they are still battling with drains clogged with garbage and overgrown vegetation, which they fear could result in flooding.
Residents living directly behind the seawall from Uitvlugt to Fellowship agreed that while the Public Works Ministry was rehabilitating the crumbling sea defences, drainage continued to be an issue and they blamed the neglect of the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) as well as Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs).
At Uitvlugt, residents told Stabroek News that the area is not known to flood even with the overtopping of the seawall, but since the RDC has been extremely negligent in clearing drains and garbage from the area the water does take longer to drain off the land when overtopping does occur. A resident said that during the rainy season, overtopping occurred twice a day depending on the tide, but since the rains have ceased there has been little flooding.
During this newspaper’s visit, a few persons were seen fishing and a few children were playing along the length of the Uitvlugt seawall.
Residents explained that the mishmash of riprap, seawall extensions and grouted boulder sloped walls was part of the rehabilitation work originally contracted out to BK International between last year and this year. A resident said that the various areas were “tarred in between the cracks… the wall was always there, always like that, but come on fixing cracks on the wall isn’t doing anything if the water doesn’t go nowhere after.”
Residents stated that they were not usually inclined to speak out about the lack of RDC attention being paid to the area for fear of retribution by both the RDC and NDCs. However, they explained that the situation would get so bad that they would be forced to burn small amounts of garbage on a consistent basis to help reduce the build-up. In addition, they showed their drains and said that the overgrown vegetation that was taking over the drains was another “battle.”
A resident stated that it was only after the high tides during April to June of this year that the RDC visited to assess the situation. After minimal flooding during the high tides, the RDC visited and cleaned the drain with a hymac. “Like two, three months now they [RDC] had come and clean the trench at the back, they dig it up but it gone back to how it was,” a resident said.
When asked why the trench was filled with garbage and if it wasn’t residents who were dumping, they blamed the “lazy” garbage collection. “We does burn, but people dump tires. Look, see anything they dump, because no one gonna pick them things up,” a Stewartville resident said. He also noted that houses were too close to the seawall but said that this was already done and the RDC had to work around those in close proximity to the seawall. He said that they needed to dig a larger trench in the back and help the Public Works Ministry. “You have the sea defence people doing this thing here, but they relying on the water to drain but where it going? This place so narrow here, all along this wall,” the resident added, while opining that if the trench were widened and cleared on a regular basis, the water would flow easily to the kokers and drain when overtopping occurs.
When Stabroek News the Sea Defences Division at Den Amstel, the drainage at the back was just as poorly managed.
Stabroek News was unable to reach Region Three RDC Chairman Julius Faerber for comment. However, the head of Sea and River Defences Unit Geoffrey Vaughn told Stabroek News that the ministry has to be focused on what is priority. Previously, Public Works Minister Robeson Benn had stated that his ministry would address drainage issues because they were forced to. He had noted that in Georgetown, in particular, the ministry had the additional burden of addressing clogged drains along the Rupert Craig Highway during high tides. Benn had said that drainage was so bad that the ministry had to spend resources and time to clear them so water from overtopping could flow.