The Sea Defence Unit at Springlands on the Corentyne, which is responsible for river and sea defences in the entire county, currently has no emergency crew, and in fact has but two technical staff.
Kaieteur News understands that apart from an engineer and his foreman, the Unit has no personnel to carry out emergency repairs or other temporary works.
The situation at the Unit has reportedly been this way for months, with the engineer having to rely on the mercy of the Guyana Sugar Corporation and the Regional Administration whenever urgent works need to be carried out. But often times, neither of the agencies would be able to assist the Unit with their workforce.
Less than two weeks ago, the Upper Corentyne Chamber of Commerce and Industry had indicated that it was “highly concerned” about severe damage to the seawall structure, which has been eroding over the past several years. Residents and businesses are fearful that their property will be damaged during high tide, which would result in significant economic losses.
Contacted yesterday, Vice President of the Chamber,Vishnu Doerga, said that when photos of the collapsing seawall at No. 78 village appeared in the press, he was contacted by an official of the Sea Defence Unit at Springlands who told him that emergency works would be carried out within 2-3 weeks.
However, the same official, who spoke with Kaieteur News on the basis of anonymity, said that since application for tenders went out and were opened last Thursday, he decided not to pursue carrying out temporary remedial works. A contract for the maintenance work of the grouted boulder scope at No. 78 village and Springlands is expected to be awarded soon, the official stated.
Contacted for comment on the staffing deficiencies at the Springlands Unit, Chief Sea and River Defence Officer, Agnes Dalrymple, said she would only speak with Kaieteur News after receiving permission from her Permanent Secretary (Ministry of Public Works) Balraj Balram. When Kaieteur News contacted Balram, he gave the go-ahead for this newspaper to speak with Darymple, but up to press time, she has not answered her telephone.
The shortage of staff at the Springlands Sea Defence Unit is of grave concern to the Chamber and residents of the Region, of which agriculture is the main economic activity.
The Unit needs at least a 10-member crew to carry out remedial and emergency works.
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