EU commissioner gets close-up look at sea defences
Stabroek News
October 20, 2001

European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Poul Nielson, was able to view first hand on Tuesday the damaged sea defences in the Berbice area.

On tour with Nielson were Prime Minister Samuel Hinds; Minister of Housing and Water, Shaik Baksh; Regional Vice-Chairman A. Baksh; Sea/River and Defence Officer George Howard, officials from the European Union and governmental and regional bodies.

At Scottsburg, it was observed that the two sea defence structures had eroded near the sluice controlled by the Guyana Sugar Corporation. The sluice was leaning, creating a 16-inch crack at the abutment of the sea wall.

Howard related to the delegation that though some measure of flooding would be experienced, it was not a threat to the residents as the ground sluice water was running upstream, and the breakage would be reinforced prior to the upcoming October spring tide. He noted that the European Commission had provided 20 million Euros for the financing of physical works and pilot projects which it is hoped will gather hydrological data and aid in the prediction of coastline defects prior to a catastrophe.

At Hampshire and Chesney housing schemes, which were formerly squatting areas and have been recently upgraded and regularized, residents expressed concern over the unavailability of loans for purchasing house lots, particularly for pensioners and single parents. The areas have only one access road, pit latrines, no schools, community centres, potable water or electricity.

Baksh told the residents that his ministry was in process of preparing a letter of collateral which would be used to access finance through banks at low interest rates. He related that the amount of money ($58,000 for land and $12,000 for water) that they were requested to pay was just a fraction of what the government was spending on infrastructure development in the community.

The ministry has received eight million Euros for community development works. He agreed to the request of the residents for more time for pensioners, who will receive a six-month extension to complete payment for house lots.

Although the use of septic tanks was encouraged, this cannot be implemented until the EU-funded Rose Hall water network has been completed at the end of this year.

Nielson and the delegation visited sea defences and housing areas on the Corentyne last Tuesday, after they had officiated earlier at the commissioning of the 5.2 kilometres Suriname ferry access road at Molesen Creek.