Trinidad: Villagers fearful more houses will collapse into sea

Six acres of land had already been swallowed by the sea along with three houses following mass land erosion at Bamboo Village Cedros.

(Trinidad Guardian) Al­most a year af­ter the sea swal­lowed three homes and a por­tion of the road near the coast in Ce­dros, vil­lagers are still fear­ful that more hous­es will col­lapse in­to the sea.

The gul­ly formed in the wake of the mas­sive land­slip has con­tin­ued to widen as no restora­tive work was ever done to stop the ero­sion.

When the T&T Guardian vis­it­ed the area, the shells of the homes lay un­oc­cu­pied on the precipice. To mark the an­niver­sary of the calami­ty, which oc­curred on Feb­ru­ary 26, 2018, the vil­lagers had paint­ed a sign on a con­crete wall which read, “ 2018 Dis­as­ter Strike, 5 15 pm, Feb­ru­ary.”

Fredrick Gore was seen ly­ing on a ham­mock near one of the aban­doned build­ings.

De­spite the dan­ger, Gore said he liked the seren­i­ty of the place.

“I live on the oth­er side and yes, I am wor­ried that one day the sea will take all of this,” he said ges­tur­ing at the ex­pan­sive land­slip. Gore said the com­mu­ni­ty lost its way when the sea took the land.

“Peo­ple moved out, friend­ships were lost. We lost the vil­lage. Now peo­ple are stay­ing in HDC hous­es and they have to pay for it. Be­fore they did not have to pay rent. It re­al­ly sad,” Gore said.

He called on the Gov­ern­ment to do restora­tive works on the land­slip to save the ex­ist­ing homes which could al­so col­lapse if the sea con­tin­ued to gnaw the land. The col­lapsed road has nev­er been re­con­nect­ed and res­i­dents doubt it ever will.

David Jerome said even though it was al­most a year since the an­niver­sary of the dis­as­ter, no­body has re­turned to the vil­lage.

“When this hap­pened even the Prime Min­is­ter came down. The Min­is­ter of Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment, Min­is­ter of Works, ODPM, every­one was here but noth­ing hap­pened. They still have done noth­ing to scape the land to pre­vent it from falling in­to the sea,” Jerome said.

Say­ing he was dis­ap­point­ed with the lack of re­sponse, Jerome said there was still time to save oth­er prop­er­ties from col­lapse. Blam­ing leak­ing wa­ter main for the ero­sion, Jerome said if prop­er main­te­nance was done, the vil­lage could have been saved.

Point­ing to a rusty wa­ter line which pro­trud­ed from the road, Jerome said for years the wa­ter line had been leak­ing.

“The land start­ed to cut away from be­low and one evening, the hous­es start­ed to crack and it dropped down. Now we can see the cesspit out in the sea,” he said. Lat­iff Mo­hammed, whose home once stood about an acre from the sea, has been among those who moved out.

Amos Joseph’s home was be­ing con­struct­ed when the sea claimed the land and he had to aban­don the project. Leroy Joseph’s home could cave any day in­to the sea. Peo­ple who lime near the hous­es use the bush­es around the land­slip to defe­cate. The area has be4come a dump­ing ground.

Coun­cil­lor for Ce­dros Shankar Teelucks­ingh said the cor­po­ra­tion was com­mit­ted to pro­tect­ing the re­main­ing homes but he said they were await­ing the re­port and rec­om­men­da­tions from the Coastal Pro­tec­tion Unit be­fore any work could be done. Teelucks­ingh said the main wa­ter line which runs through the vil­lage was locked off by WASA.

Say­ing about six acres of land along Bam­boo In­ner Road has al­ready been de­stroyed, Teek­lucks­ingh said if the Gov­ern­ment did not do restora­tive work, more homes will col­lapse.

“The wa­ter has to be chan­nelled out so that it will not cut in­to the land. The cor­po­ra­tion wants to see the re­port from the Coastal Pro­tec­tion Unit so we can de­ter­mine what could be done to pro­tect the peo­ple’s prop­er­ty.” he added.

Con­tact­ed for com­ment, Min­is­ter of Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Kaz­im Ho­sein said he will li­aise with the Siparia Re­gion­al Cor­po­ra­tion’s chair­man Dr Glenn Ra­mad­hars­ingh and coun­cil­lor Teelucks­ingh to see what kind of as­sis­tance could be giv­en to the res­i­dents who cur­rent­ly live near the land­slip.

Min­is­ter of Works Ro­han Sinanan said the Coastal Pro­tec­tion Unit had con­duct­ed in­ves­ti­ga­tions and sub­mit­ted a re­port. Asked why noth­ing was done to mit­i­gate against fur­ther dam­age, Sinanan said he can­not com­ment un­less he gets more in­for­ma­tion. He said he will look in­to the res­i­dents’ con­cerns.

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