Waves continue to batter coast -Mosquito Hall wall breached

By Gitanjali Singh
Stabroek News
November 25, 1999

Unusually high waves continued to assault Guyana's sea defence with several sections of Region Four experiencing overtopping and another defence structure crumbling, this time at Mahaica.

A five-ft section of the sea defence at Mosquito Hall (aback of the Mahaica Cottage Hospital) was undermined and blown out by the heavy wave action on Monday afternoon, several hours after a 40-ft section of the Vigilance, East Coast Demerara, sea defence caved in from wave pressure.

The breach as well as heavy overtopping in some areas of Mahaica saw several villages under water for a few hours including Unity, Supply, Belmont, Cambridge, Helena Number One, Tranquility Hall and Spring Hall.

Closer to the city, there was overtopping at Turkeyen. There was also overtopping along sections of the West Bank Demerara.

Mahadeo Persaud, head of the government sea defence unit, told Stabroek News that the waves yesterday were again expected to be 10.72 feet and it was not certain how this would further affect the sea defence structures of the country. Waves on Monday afternoon were expected at 10.9 feet.

Emergency work is to start today in Mahaica. Similar work scheduled for Vigilance yesterday, had not begun up to 2.00 pm when this newspaper visited the area and the tide was rising.

Residents of Mahaica said they had never seen waves so high in all of their lives and many of them have had to undertake emergency evacuations of their stocks to avoid losses.

One rice farmer, Gangaram Changa at Helena, said he saw the water rising in the drain for one minute and continued looking at it for a few minutes. Within 20 minutes the water was two feet high and his car and home were under water. He said 50 bags of paddy had been soaked and his wife pointed to the elevation of her stove, fridge and other household items to avoid further damage. She stood on a chair to cook and was unable to send her children to school yesterday. Their car was also stripped because salt water had gotten into it.

Other neighbours said that they had had to take similar action.

Repeated efforts to reach Public Works Minister, Anthony Xavier, for the government's plan in combating the deterioration in the sea defence sector failed.

The government has been criticised for not doing structural maintenance of the sea defence at a pace required to grapple with the deterioration and for relying heavily on emergency works which cost thrice as much.

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