Your report with accompanying photo of Sunday Jan 29 on slippage of a section of the concrete river defence adjacent to a koker at eastern Maria’s Pleasure on the beautiful island of Wakenaam, raises a number of troubling questions with respect to poor inspection and maintenance of river defences on the island, as well as the tardiness of the Government to respond and deploy its resources in emergency situations.
The cause of the slippage is evident. The clay soil of the embankment under the concrete slope settled/washed away over time causing a large cavity to develop. Loss of support plus no/minimum toe protection against erosion in the form of sheet piling/gabions and with the waves and water pressure forces impacting on it, the weak concrete slab on top of the clay slope disintegrated under its weight and imposed forces, and had no way to go but downwards in the channel taking the coping with it. Usually, a good River Defence Ranger on his weekly inspection would have spotted the problem and alerted the competent authority to take remedial action before a catastrophe occurred. Unfortunately in Guyana there is no blueprint for preventative maintenance of the sea and river defence and the general policy appears to be, ‘don’t fix it unless it is broken’.
It was noted that after the collapse of the river defence and water started flooding adjoining homes and farmlands, efforts were made to prevent over-topping of the embankment at high tide by placing sandbags and boulders to strengthen and build it up. This method is likely to worsen the situation as the loading of sandbags and heavy boulders on a weakened clay embankment in slipping mode will only enhance its downward movement. Efforts should have been made to stabilize the toe and raise the embankment temporarily by other means without loading it with heavy materials until such time that a long term solution to the problem could be implemented.
As reported under this emergency situation, the Chairman of the Wakenaam Neighbourhood Democratic Council (WNDC) requested the use of an excavator owned and operated by the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) to assist in plugging the breach on the river defence embankment. His request was reportedly turned down on grounds of exclusivity as the Controller was allegedly to have stated that the excavator can only be used to execute mandated drainage and irrigation works although the machine was assigned to the Island to carryout excavation works as necessity demands.
Something is wrong here and it is hoped that the Ministers of Agriculture and Works will recognize that in serious situations where lives and the destruction of properties are at stake, Government resources wherever they are available must be put in place to give every assistance to the needy without reservation. Therefore, the NDIA operative on the Island who failed to respond to the WNDC Chairman’s request for help should be answerable for his action. There can be no ‘ifs’ and/or ‘buts’ when people stand to lose their lives and property because of uncaring public officials ‘splitting hairs’ to justify their failure to carry out their duties responsibly.
Oct 16, 2018By Sean Devers in Trinidad In association with Regal, Vnet, Noble House Seafoods & Cascadia Hotel In murky conditions and played before virtually empty stands, Guyana Jaguars, led by a 79-run...
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