Govt orders contractor to fix Wakenaam river defence breach before next high tide; flood impact assessment promised

Last Updated on Sunday, 17 June 2018, 11:40 by Denis Chabrol

As residents and businesses in a section of Wakenaam grapple with the impact of severe flooding due to what they said was poor river defence work by a contractor, Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson has ordered the contractor to fix the breach before the next high tide.

“I have spoken to the contractor regarding fortifying the area before the next high tides at 7:30 pm.  Our ranger on the ground confirm there is adequate resources to secure the area and the contractor team is presently mobilised on the ground to commence works. Low tide is at 1:00 pm so there is adequate work time,” Patterson told Demerara Waves Online News.

Patterson blamed the flood, which began at about 6:30 AM at Sans Souci/ Bell Plaine area on what he termed “inadequate temporary works” on a section of an ongoing rip-rap project being executed by Deowdat Singh.

Hundreds of residents of a section of Wakenaam Island woke up Sunday morning to flood waters in their premises, due to a reported break in the river defence caused by poor construction work, a local government councillor said.

Chairman of the Wakenaam Neighbourhood Democratic Council, Sheik Ahmad said the water was receding at about 8:38 AM but he feared a more serious recurrence at the next high tide.

“If nothing is done, there will be a massive flood,” Ahmad said.

He expressed concern that no one from the company that has been contracted to build a rip-rap sea defence has been on the work-site for the past three days. He said only sea defence rangers were on site at the eight-feet deep breach where water has been gushing in.

Ahmad blamed poor work by the contractor for the flood that has affected homes, businesses and the Sans Souci Sunnatul Mosque.

A cleric at the mosque said at least GY$400,000 worth of carpets have been severely damaged by the murky flood waters. “The losses need to be borne by the contractor,” he said.

Residents have been wading through two to three feet of water in some homes to retrieve their valuables such as appliances and furniture. The water has already crossed the Sans-Souci/ Bell Plaine road to other residents.

“The residents are very, very upset because they want to know what will happen (with compensation) when the water recedes,” he said.

The contractor was hired to build the fence and was in the process of mobilising supplies when the breach occurred last week Monday. However, at that time residents said it was not serious.