Govt working to rectify Mahaicony sea defence breach
─ excavators deployed to assist farmers
─ tons of boulders placed at affected site, more to arrive on Wednesday
DPI, Guyana, Sunday, July 7, 2019
Farmers in the Mahaichony district between Broomhall and Danzigt are breathing easier as the Ministry of Public Infrastructure has responded promptly to correct a sea defence breach at Danzigt.
In a statement to the Department of Public Information (DPI), Sea and River Defence Officer within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Kevin Samad noted that the breached earthen dam at Danzigt spanned 125m. Characterising the erosion of the embankment as severe, Samad said the erosion has led to the flooding of some of the rice and pasture lands. This has also been attributed to heavy rains and the Bellamy canal being at full capacity. Nevertheless, water is receding into both Bellamy and connecting canals.
Corrective measures that have been implemented include the full operation of the Bellamy sluice to drain water into Mahaica River. This system is most functional at the low tide periods to ensure maximum efficiency.
Additionally, Samad noted that the Public Infrastructure Ministry has mobilised 2,000 tons of boulders to areas most affected along the sea dam between Prospect and Broomhall. Today, an additional 1,000 tons was dispatched to Danzigt and on Wednesday, another 1,000 tons will be delivered to the affected area.
With respect to the direct assistance given to rice farmers, Samad mentioned, “a long boom excavator was mobilised yesterday to assist rice farmers to reinforce dams around their rice fields to prevent intrusion. Works will commence today [Sunday] for the farmers”. Sea and river defence officers within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure will also commence a walkabout exercise to assess the efficiency of the implemented emergency measures. He further added that on Tuesday, July 9, a second excavator will be dispatched to bring relief to the farmers affected by the flooding to their croplands.
Commenting on current sea defence works in the Mahaichony area, the Sea and River Defence Officer also disclosed that “works are currently ongoing at Prospect and Broomhall area to secure vulnerable stretches”.
For 2019, the Public Infrastructure Ministry awarded a contract to construct a permanent rip rap defence for Prospect area. It is from this project that some boulders will be diverted to Danzigt to fully seal the breached section.
The officer further disclosed that another rip rap structure is slated to come on stream. “The Ministry wishes to note that a tender will be opened at NPTAB on Tuesday, 9 July 2019 to construct 350 metres of rip rap structure between Prospect and Broomhall. This is a phase 2 project,” Samad said. The Ministry official also highlighted phase 1 of the project that entails the construction of 325 metres of rip rap sea defence structure. Putting the cumulative sea defence works into perspective, Samad said, “so the total length of works is 675 metres which is over 1200 feet works.”
According to him, “another tender was opened last Tuesday on 2 July 2019, for the supply of 2,500 tons of boulders which will be delivered to the breached area at Danzigt.” He noted the critical situation, “will continue to be monitored by the Sea and River Defence department, to ensure a quick response to secure the breached and vulnerable sections, to arrest the erosion of the sea dam, and to prevent consequential flooding”. At present, three excavators are on-site currently fortifying sections highlighted as vulnerable.
Corrective works have been affected by heavy rains over the past few of days, but the Public Infrastructure Ministry is undeterred in their efforts to ensure the breached dam is fixed and that floodwaters recede. With this in mind, the Sea and River Defence Officer related, “several villages within the Mahaicony district are currently experiencing severe erosion of the foreshore which is resulting in total loss of the mangrove forest and consequent erosion of the sea dam. This is a cyclic erosion pattern which has accelerated rapidly during recent spring tide periods. We are currently in a neap tide period for the next 10 days and this will enable us to advance with the emergency works before the next spring tide period.”
Editor’s Note: Neap tide – a tide just after the first or third quarters of the moon when there is least difference between high and low water