Georgetown seawall area scoured
-$13.95M maintenance contracts awarded
Stabroek News
March 16, 2007

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The wind swept look: Now devoid of squatters' shacks this area along the Kingston seawall reflects the intense clean-up drive now underway. (Photo by Ken Moore)

Maintenance work on the Georgetown seawall from Vlissengen Road to Fort Groyne in Kingston by the Sea Defence Board has already given the area a clean, new look but the project faces the challenge of keeping the area free from vagrants and garbage.

The work, being executed in three contracts to the total value of $13.95 million with funding from central government, is being done by contractors Ignatius Harris and Lilwattie Rajnauth.

Chief Sea and River Defence Officer George Howard told Stabroek News that the three maintenance contracts were awarded in February and will end on June 30.

Under the maintenance project, the contractors would clean the landward and seaward sides of the seawall on a daily basis.

One of the contractors told Stabroek News that the workers have weeded heaps of grass and cleared tons of garbage from the seawall but the challenge remains because some businesses continue to dump what appears to be industrial waste in areas just cleaned.
Clearing debris and bush in the Fort Groyne area in Kingston. The work is being done by contractor Ignatius Harris. (Photo by Ken Moore)

Howard said that the project experienced some problems earlier on when some people persisted in dumping their garbage between Vlissengen and Camp roads on the landward side and some vagrants roam and cook in the area. The situation is now under control but keeping the area clean calls for an improved surveillance system there.

He said, "We didn't realize there were so many vagrants in the area until we started cleaning."

Apart from keeping the seawall clean for proper inspection and maintenance of the sea defences, he said that it was also enhancing the aesthetics in the entire area which is especially popular for joggers during the week days and for relaxation at weekends.

This reporter was pleasantly surprised to visit the area between Battery Road and Fort Groyne on Tuesday to find that, with the exception of one shack in the area, all the others had been removed and the entire area had been cleared of undergrowth. It was probably the first time in over two to three decades that the area was that clean.

Only one hut, used by boat-builders, remained in the area. Howard said that the Sea Defence Board removed the shacks after the Ministry of Housing provided house lots for the seawall dwellers, some of whom had actually planted permanent crops including coconut palms along the seaward side of the seawall.

He said that the boat builders have been given some time to move. The shacks and boat builders were in full view of the proposed site for the construction of a multi-million dollar hotel under the management of the Marriott Hotels Group.

Howard noted that the contractors cleared the undergrowth and did some selective cutting of trees. They also used some earth moving equipment to clear much of the garbage that formed a part of the top layer of earth. The paved road that led to Fort Groyne and parts of the walls of the fort are now visible.

Also very visible are the remains of the abandoned Luckhoo Swimming Pool, which had been completely covered by undergrowth. The entire area has improved significantly and two female employees from a nearby company while relaxing there remarked that it was "paradise reclaimed."

However, Howard noted the need for police patrols to lend to a secure atmosphere in the area.

Asked about the clearing of some mangroves in the area close to the Kingston Bandstand, Howard said that they were not really necessary for sea defence since they were growing on sand and below the sand was a bitumen slope, which is part of the sea defence system.

(Miranda La Rose)