Region Three RDC calls for probe into Wakenaam river defence breach

A letter has been sent to the Ministry of Public Infrastructure requesting an investigation into the breach of the river defence on Wakenaam on Sunday, Information Officer of the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) of Region Three says.

Speaking with Stabroek News on Wednesday, Information Officer of Region Three’s RDC, Ganesh Mahipaul, confirmed that the clean-up of San Souci, Wakenaam, and its immediate surrounding communities is almost complete.

He said that the Region’s administration is still in the process of finishing their assessment of the extent of the damage which residents incurred, and it is expected to be completed before the end of the week.

Mahipaul also explained that a letter had been sent to the Ministry of Public Infrastructure requesting an investigation to ascertain the cause of the breach and whether it was as a result of negligence on the part of the contractor – Deodat Singh.

He also noted that a complaint about the Ministry’s engineer and his lack of supervision had been included in the letter, since most of the residents had filed complaints about his “lackadaisical” monitoring of the project.

“The residents have claimed that he was hardly on the site and was not performing his duties. They said that they were also calling for his immediate removal,” Mahipaul explained.

The sudden flood which occurred early on Sunday morning saw approximately 37 residents’ yards and homes being heavily inundated, with about a dozen residents suffering severe losses.

With respect to compensation, Mahipaul explained that once the assessment and investigation are completed, then they will be able to come to a conclusion as to how the residents can be compensated.

“We can only talk about compensation once we do a proper investigation. If it was natural causes then I am not sure where the compensation will come from. Then the Administration will have to take it to a higher level. However, if it is man-made, which the residents are alleging, and if the investigation should find that it was caused by negligence, then it is only going to be fitting and proper that he [the contractor] compensate the affected residents,” he added, while stating that Singh has publicly indicated that he will replace the mats which were destroyed at the masjid, as well as assist some of the residents.

“I don’t expect him to compensate all the residents for all the damage, but the least he could do, based on the revelation of the assessment, is maybe look at a percentage across the board based on the losses,” Mahipaul said.

He also noted that they are ensuring that they do a careful and accurate assessment of the losses.

Singh, who spoke to Stabroek News on Monday, said he was accepting partial blame for the flood. He noted that even though the situation is being grossly exaggerated, he is taking responsibility for what happened.

“It wasn’t a breach. It was just the tide was too high. We work [with] a tide book and when we checked the tide book, we built the wall for what we were expecting and it came up far more higher and we didn’t cater for that,” Singh had said, while emphasising that he is taking the brunt of the blame.  Spring tides had been announced for this period.

Singh also noted that he has related to the residents that he will assist them with compensation for their damaged furniture and appliances, and he is also working with them to ensure that the affected areas are thoroughly cleaned.

Permanent riprap structures are currently being constructed in the area and Singh had noted that they should be finished by the middle of next month, as they are currently more than 50 percent completed.

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