Deep South Rupununi cut off by flooding

The flooded area in deep South Rupununi yesterday. (DPI photo)

The Vice Chairman of Region Nine, Karl Singh yesterday said that the Deep South Rupununi has been cut off by the inundation of a key bridge.

His statement follows days of growing concern about the impact of heavy rain in the Rupununi.

According to the Department of Public Information (DPI), a team from the Regional Administration in Lethem is currently assessing the use of an alternate route following an inundation of the Wardpao Bridge in deep South Rupununi, Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo.

A makeshift bridge to allow residents and vehicles to travel along the eroded Lethem-Shulinab Road.

DPI yesterday said that the road between the communities of Katoonarib to Karaudarnauwa has been identified as the alternative route but it needs some work so that residents and vehicles can safely make it to their destinations.

Singh told DPI that for the past three days, heavy rains caused flooding in the Deep South which resulted in the Wardpao Bridge across the Rupununi River becoming inaccessible to residents and vehicles.

“The approach to the bridge is a bit low and the bridge is currently under six feet of water. As a result, the entire Deep South Rupununi is cut off. Vehicles are parked there waiting on the water to recede to move, but as soon as the assessment is concluded we will go ahead and make the alternative route,” Singh said.

On Tuesday, Stabroek News had reported the washing away of a culvert along the Lethem-Shulinab Road in the Rupununi,, as a result of heavy rain rushing down the mountains in the area.

According to Toshao Nicholas Fredericks of Shulinab Village, who had previously spoken to this newspaper, the damage adds to the burden faced by those trying to manoeuvre in and out of the South Rupununi, particularly since there is no alternative road which grants access to the area.

Fredericks had noted that on Monday he had observed that a small section of the road had washed away, and by the afternoon a larger portion had eroded. He explained that the erosion developed after a night of persistent rain.

Fredericks yesterday explained that the erosion of the said road continues with very little probability of an intervention being made any time soon.

 He added that when he raised his concerns with the Regional Executive Officer (REO) Kerwin Ward to see what could be done to remedy the situation, he was told that efforts would be made to mobilize a team.

The collapsed Yamatawao Bridge

 However, the Toshao said he later learnt that the efforts alluded to by the REO would

have been to contact the Toshao of Parikawareau-nakwa Village, which is located three miles south of the affected area, to use their tractor to execute some works.

Fredericks expressed his dissatisfaction with this move, saying that the maintenance of these roads is  the responsibility of the Region, not the villages.

 However, Region Nine Chairman Bryan Allicock in an invited comment explained that the heavy rainfall continues to delay any real attempt to offer assistance.

“Even if we are able to mobilize a team to carry out works, the rain would stop us from getting anything done,” he shared.

 In addition to the continued erosion of the road, Stabroek News was informed of a situation at the Wardpao Bridge, where several vehicles have been left stranded, unable to access the “Deep South,” as a result of it being covered by the rising waters of the Rupununi River.

These occurrences are just the latest among those reported in recent weeks and have left residents in the South Rupununi concerned about the possibility of being cut off from the rest of the region.

  Earlier this month, this newspaper reported on incidents where trucks have toppled and caused severe damage to two bridges, one of which was the Yamatawao Bridge, a key access bridge to the South Rupununi.

It was reported that the Yamatawao Bridge which serves as the gateway to the South Rupununi, collapsed on June 1st, under the weight of a flatbed truck which was transporting an excavator.

Following news of the incident, the Ministry of Public Infrastructure announced in a statement that a team from the ministry had been deployed to assess the damage.

  As a result of the assessment, a decision has been made to construct a temporary bridge that would allow the passage of lighter vehicles, while the Yamatawao Bridge undergoes rehabilitation.

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