Hague seawall critical
Emergency works for tender By Oscar P. Clarke
Stabroek News
April 8, 2003

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Around 400 feet of sea defence wall on the East and West of the Hague sluice is in critical need of repair with a large portion having already collapsed.

High tides on Wednesday saw a critical section of the wall on the West Coast of Demerara give way resulting in water rushing over and into a sideline canal.

Contacted yesterday, Communications Consultant in the Ministry of Public Works, Ajay Baksh said that the ministry was aware of the problem and was taking steps to arrest the situation.

According to Baksh, emergency works for which tenders would appear in the press today, would see bids for the construction of 160 feet of wave wall along with 177 square yards of concrete slope wall.

These measures he said would be of a temporary nature until the finalisation of permanent works to be undertaken sometime next year.

The project will be funded through the European Union and is at the design stage. According to Baksh, regional engineers were constantly testing and monitoring the situation as it related to the wall.

On a visit yesterday it was noticed that a large segment of the concrete seawall had fallen away making the area vulnerable to high tides.

But Baksh said that there was no immediate threat of flooding as a large drainage canal behind the wall was capable of taking off any overspill.

A hole in the wall had earlier been brought to the attention of officials who had said that it was not a threat and they proceeded to block it with sandbags.

However this newspaper observed that the bags had been shifted some metres back by the force of the waves.

The earthen dam behind the wall was beginning to show signs of wear with cracks clearly evident at several locations.

A section of the wall east of the sluice was also shown to be vulnerable with wet spots clearly visible, indicating water penetrating the porous wall.

Councillor of the Hague-Blankenburg Neighbourhood Democratic Council, Gansham Singh told reporters that salt water had reached three miles inland threatening rice crops.

He further expressed concern for the integrity of the entire seafront structure which he described as old and in urgent need of rehabilitation.

Meanwhile, a critical stretch of sea defence wall at Ruimzeight, WCD, is in danger of collapse with serious cracks along with significant land movement visible at some parts.

At that site approximately 200 feet of the earthen and boulder wall is showing signs of slippage and depression resulting in water penetrating the earthen wall.

A section also shows clearly where vegetation - including mangroves - protecting the sea defence, had been cleared to erect a boulder wall, a section of which has now begun to shift.

Baksh acknowledged that this was one area on the critical watch list and was slated for attention.

Work here, he said, is expected to be done by the sea defence unit to shore up the weak areas. He foresaw no immediate threat of flooding as the presence of a canal behind the wall is believed to be more than adequate to absorb any seawater.

As always Baksh said it was an issue of money and prioritising areas.

According to the communications consultant, huge stretches of the country's sea defences need to be replaced but financial constraints have restricted work.

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