Pile-driving by private citizen for first-floor pool threatening nearby homes

Dear Editor,

The bombardment of the Triumph front lands community on the East Coast of Demerara, continues. As if our previous complaints of noise nuisance (leading to deafness) from the neighbouring community of Mon Repos north, and constant flooding (causing respiratory and other illnesses) were not enough, we are now faced with a similarly sized problem and that is, the imminent danger of our collapsing homes. How much more must we endure?

Experts will tell you the radius of vibrations is about 200 feet for hydraulic press type pile-driving equipment.

However, these guys are using a drop hammer, the crudest, most outdated and disastrous pile-driving equipment for built-up areas. And in the absence of a soil test, reaching more resistant depths will worsen the vibration waves. Residents faced a similar situation some 3-4 years ago when a telecommunications tower was installed to support the now infamous fibre optic cable project, whereby houses suffered immediate major structural cracks when the same type equipment was used. This time around, there is at least one newly built concrete home in the immediate flight path of these vibration waves, while other residents have recently done concrete repairs to their homes; as such there would be no time to allow for curing and settling, let alone in the case of the other homes less than 60 feet away. What is to be noted also, is that some structural damage may not show up immediately.

While the sea defence structure which protects our 6-feet-below coast line, is considered an industrial type construction and has greater resistance, pile-driving is occurring just 100 feet away, notably within the 200 foot radius for a more sophisticated type of equipment than the one currently used. In New Orleans, USA, similar to Guyana since it is below sea level, hydraulic presses are mandated owing to the risk of damage to the sea defence structures.

Some 20 years ago this large swathe of land was given to the Imam of a masjid under the pretext of a charitable hospital and similar projects. However, he has now sold large sections, at discounted prices, a portion of which has gone to this private owner. Is it important that the land was surveyed and demarcated some 4 years ago, but with no buyers lining up? Is it relevant that the NDC Chairman attends a Masjid run by the seller of this land, a so-called prominent member of the BV-Triumph area?

For a house plan which contains a planned upper floor pool, one would think this to be a significant variation from a normal house plan, warranting the intervention of the Housing Ministry. Had the NDC flagged this concern, or had it been under pressure from any influential community member, the smart thing to have done would have been to further its doubts and the plan to the Housing Ministry, which has jurisdiction on complex construction plans.

It is only one year ago (2nd August) that Kaieteur News published a letter on the failure of the BV/Triumph NDC.

And as the NDC wallows, the road, Dasrat Street Drive, in this very community, remains a bush trail; not surprisingly, since the piles were dragged through it!

To further complicate this story, somehow, several mangrove tress, initially planted by National Agricultural Research & Extension Institute (NAREI), in the sea near to the seawall, and directly opposite this planned pool house, have somehow suddenly disappeared in the past few months, coincidentally when the first pile-driving attempt occurred. Any upper storied pool house would have unhindered ocean views, while the rest of the coastlanders stare at bush!

In the interim, at a minimum, can the government, Sea Defence Department of MPI, the EPA, NAREI, the Ministry of Housing, Ministry of Communities, the RDC, first halt the construction, conduct a review of due process, and even if somehow all is well, get the contractor to use a hydraulic press to minimise vibration shocks?

If not, by Tuesday 22nd August pile-driving will be over and creeping structural damage would have already begun to step in.

There are at least a dozen hydraulic presses in Guyana, and we are well beyond the Stone Age era!

Yours faithfully,

(Name and address

provided)

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