$25M for repairs to Profit/Foulis seawall
Stabroek News
March 23, 2003

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Government will spend $25M to do emergency repairs to the breached Profit/Foulis seawall after heavy waves caused the temporary structure constructed last year to collapse.

The temporary earthen and boulder dam collapsed on Wednesday under the force of eleven-and-a-half feet waves which pummelled the West Coast Berbice coastline.

President Bharrat Jagdeo approved the sum after visiting the site and being briefed by Chief Sea and River Defence Officer, George Howard on possible steps to be taken.

The presidential team which included Agriculture Minister Navin Chandarpal and Regional Chairman, Region Five, (Mahaica/West Berbice), Harrinarine Baldeo, a release from the Govern-ment Information Agency (GINA) yesterday said, engaged residents who had gathered at the site.

According to the release, the president addressed some of the residents’ concerns relating to losses suffered as a result of the breach while instructing the regional chairman to examine ways to deliver fresh water to the villages of El Dorado, Foulis and Profit.

Jagdeo further asked Howard to examine the proposal of livestock farmers to broaden drains bordering the railway embankment to allow fresh water to run through these.

On Friday, Minister of Transport and Hydraulics, Anthony Xavier along with several officials of his ministry had visited the site to see the situation first hand.

He engaged several residents in seeking to work towards a solution to the issue while minimising damage to their lands.

During these discussions it was suggested that a 25-foot trench be built to help in absorbing some of the water which had been washed onto the land while making arrangements to have the breach sealed. Speaking with Stabroek News the minister had alluded to an approach to the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) for funding to the tune of US$5M to complete permanent works but this would have to await the bank’s approval.

In the interim the ministry was looking at ways to temporarily seal the gap in the wall. Government Supervisor on the last project to seal a breach in the same area, David Lewis, said that the breach was a result of the work being unfinished and the portion which gave way not having sufficient boulder protection.

He further alluded to the absence of material to fully complete the temporary works which were undertaken in early 2002 after the old wall had collapsed in late 2001.

Contractor Mahendra Nauth had undertaken the work on the temporary structure at a cost of $100M which saw the erection of an earthen dam buttressed by a boulder face under which fibre fabric had been laid.

Meanwhile, the ministry was said to be keeping an eye on other vulnerable areas including those at Ogle and Buxton on the East Coast Demerara, at Ruimzigt on the West Coast, the Essequibo Islands, and Johanna Cecilia on the Essequibo Coast.

A watch was also being kept on villages along the Corentyne coast where overtopping is evident.

Work, it was further said, had begun to strengthen weak areas on the West Coast Demerara seashore at Cornelia Ida and Hague and at Devonshire Castle on the Essequibo Coast.

Exceptionally high tides are normally expected around the time of the celebration of Phagwah with breaches occurring almost every year in what is seen as the Phagwah spring. (Oscar P Clarke)

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