Koker works damage dam causes flooding at Charity

Residents of Backstreet, Charity, Essequibo Coast were last night forced to spend the night in over one and a half feet of floodwaters after construction being done on a koker in the area caused a breach in a main dam; the wooden koker is being replaced with a concrete structure.

Last Sunday, the same dam was breached causing the water from the nearby canal to be lodged on the land. Yesterday’s breach was said to be the result of inferior and inadequate work being done on the koker.

When Stabroek News visited the area, water was seen rushing rapidly from the canal onto the land and overtopping the street. 

This cottage was completely surrounded by floodwaters

Speaking with this publication, Chairman of the Charity/Urasara Neigh-bourhood Democratic Council (NDC) Beatrice Mittelholzer said the flooding could have been prevented if the contractor and regional engineer had sought advice from the residents of the community.

“The region went ahead and bypassed the NDC and did what they want and this is the outcome of it now. The NDC will not take the blame for this,” she said. “The contractor should have come into the NDC for us to explain to them about the type of soil they are dealing with here in Charity. Residents would have been able to advise them about what to do. The NDC could have sent councillors to monitor this work. This is not the first time that they have bypassed the NDC with these things that they are doing.

“The contractor and  those in the region are  responsible for what is happening here… Now all these people have to suffer and is carrying a lot of losses. I am calling on the region and the Ministry of Communities to check to see what is going on at Charity.

“When I go and talk about these lackadaisical works that are being done in Charity, I get a very hard time at the regional level. Again, I’m asking the government to pay us attention.”

Mittelholzer added that the contractor was contracted by the region instead of the NDC as is customary.

Residents water tanks sitting in floodwaters

“The NDC did not get any bill of works or any visits about what is being done here,” she added.

Attempts were made to contact Regional Demo-cratic Council officials, but only Regional Engineer Renick Marslow was available for comment. And he would only prepared to say briefly: “We have a diversion in the dam and will open it when the tide falls and will fix the breach in the dam. We will also be working through the night to fix the problem. Hopefully, the dam will be fixed before the other high tide which is expected to be in the early hours of the morning.”

At around 4 pm yesterday, this publication was told, the dam was breached and the water started rushing in.

Residents were forced to raise their electrical appliances and furniture to higher ground to prevent damage to their property, but most of their fowl pens and kitchen gardens were under water.

A resident, Shonika Castello, said she was worried that the water will be lodged on the land for a long period.

“This is total nonsense. Just last week Sunday we were flooded now this again. This time, the water is higher,” she said. “All this could be prevented if the people in this region cared about us. In the first place, they are building a concrete koker without using the right material. The material they are using is inferior so of course the dam will burst away. They were to drive piles before they began the actual construction but they didn’t. They used slabs of soft wood.

I can’t understand what they are really doing. Now because its spring tide we are facing a difficulty. This is the highest the water ever come. We had to move out everything. Our appliances and transformers got wet up and damage. The back street is very low and everyone knows that. Imagine the bed where our children has to sleep is almost under water. Where will we go to sleep? What will we do? This water has nowhere to go until the tide goes down so we all have to stay here and suffer because of the fault of the contractor.”

Other affected residents were fearful that even the water they drink that is stored in black tanks will become contaminated if the water is not drawn off from the land, as the tanks are not very high above ground level. “Most if not all of us here have pit latrines and we have children and babies. This is sickening. Just imagine the state we are in here,” one resident noted.

Residents are hoping that urgent permanent action will be taken to fix the breach before “the entire village is washed away.”

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