Eighteen-year-old Sarafena Martin got the scare of her life when she went to pick up her nephew at the Farm Nursery School on Friday and saw a caiman coming out of the weed-infested trench.
She ran into the school building and raised an alarm. But by the time parents and teachers ran out, it had already disappeared. The school is located next to a trench along the sea dam and Friday was not the first time a caiman was seen close to it. Snakes would also be seen around the area.
A few parents and residents gathered in front of the school at Farm, East Bank Essequibo yesterday to highlight the issue. They told this newspaper that they learnt that reptiles would go into the school as well, especially if there is a flood.
Describing the area as a jungle, they said it has not been cleared for a long time now and with all of the creatures living there, the students especially, are at risk.
They have made reports to the Good Hope/ Hydronie Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) office, located in the village but nothing has been done. They are calling on the authorities to clear the bushes before the school reopens and not wait until something terrible happens.
They told this newspaper that apart from that, there are monkeys and other wild animals living among the thick bushes along the river defence.
Contacted, an official from the NDC told Stabroek News that the clearing of the river defence falls under the Ministry of Public Infrastructure while the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) has responsibility for cleaning the trench.
The official said rates collected by the NDC was a very small amount, as a result it did not “have the kind of money” to undertake such projects. He said the NDC has written to the ministry and the NDIA to assist with financing and machinery to undertake the projects and would be following up with them soon.
According to a resident, Michelle Withrite, she heard a commotion close to the riverside one afternoon and ran to investigate. She saw a few residents there, panicking as they watched “a big camoudie [anaconda] swallowing a sheep.”
The area also has a problem with Africanized bees in the bushes along the river defence. A livestock farmer, Collette Trotz, told this newspaper that she was grazing her sheep one afternoon, when a swarm of bees attacked her.
She said she “ran a distance while screaming and jumped into the trench” – not caring at the time that there were caiman and snakes in there – and got most of the bees off. She had to be treated at the hospital for the stings and the high blood pressure the attack caused. The bees would also attack her sheep but they run away.
She told this newspaper that the nest is getting bigger and the bees would be ready to swarm at the slightest sound.
“When school reopens and the children making noise what you think would happen. The bees would get angry and go all over. I’m afraid to go there now. They [authorities] better come and move them [bees],” she said.
Residents had also made reports about this at the NDC but nothing has been done so far.
Meanwhile, the residents would also like the road to be fixed. They said that when it rains, the road becomes “slushy.” They said that apart from their feet becoming messy, they could also slip and fall. According to a woman, “We can’t wear high-heels in here when we’re going out, even when the place dry because the street is not level.”
Asked about the road, the NDC official said that it falls under the Regional Democratic Council and was “in the pipeline” to be fixed soon.