Minister Edghill inspects sea defence works in Mahaica, Berbice
Minister of Public Works, Bishop Juan Edghill carried out inspections of ongoing sea defence works in Essex Concord, Mahaicony, along the shoreline to Fairfield, and in Lonsdale and Sisters Village, Berbice.
Minister Edghill stressed the importance of preventative measures and interventions to preserve the mangroves, especially given that the rising tides continue to pose a threat to their longevity.
“With the movement of mud, climate change, weather patterns and everything else, we are losing a significant number of mangroves in this section. Once the mangroves are removed, the dam that we are standing on becomes compromised, and once this dam is breached, the water is all the way in, whether at farmers, poultry farmers or households, ” he explained.
Additionally, the minister noted that sea defence is an expensive venture, however, the Ministry of Public Works is committed to facilitating interventions.
“Based on the understanding that I have, we have already done six kilometres, from Dantzig, Mahaicony coming all the way back to Fairfield. As the work continues, we are now in the seven-kilometre zone. But we are not asking to do an entire kilometre right now. It will be just about 350-400 metres, and we will fill in the gaps as we go along,” he further explained.
Senior Engineer of the ministry’s River and Sea Defence department, Jermaine Braithwaite, also emphasised the importance of preventative measures to preserve the mangroves along the shoreline.
“The important thing here is to, with an understanding of the rate of depletion of the mangrove, be able to plan and implement flood protection interventions, the construction of hard sea defences in a timely manner,” he underscored.
He said this has been a challenge over the years, given the fact that there are several critical areas along the coast.
“With the resources that the ministry has allocated, we have to target those areas. What we want to continue to do here at Mahaicony, and what the sea defence department has been doing over the last two years, is to implement ahead of the rate of depletion of the mangrove.
“We are in discussions, and the procurement and financial needs were brought to the attention of the minister, so that we can have an additional set of contracts initiated within this stretch.”
The senior engineer said the department will continue to monitor and assess the condition of the shoreline.
“Our projections are that the erosion will continue to progress west, towards the Mahaica river mouth, and at some point, there we may start to see a change in the dynamic of the shoreline. ”
He added that while they monitor the shoreline, it is important that the execution of works continues simultaneously.
Minister Edghill was accompanied by the Ministry’s Sea and River Defence Manager, Kevin Samad and Project Manager- Sea and River Defence, Jermaine Braithwaite and Brigadier Gary Beaton, Chair of the Sea and River Defence Board.
Some $5B was allocated in the 2022 budget for river and sea defence measures. The amount was earmarked for the “construction, rehabilitation and maintenance of sea and river defence infrastructure in areas including Dantzig, Prospect, Content, Fairfield, Zealand, Cane Garden, Uitvlugt, Anna Catherina, No. 63 Beach, Manila, and Bygeval”.