Residents of Salem, Parika, East Bank Essequibo who live close to the sea are concerned that they may lose their homes to erosion if the issue is not addressed urgently.
They stressed that they “made our investments in our houses” with both top and bottom flats and it is difficult for them to watch as the dam continues to be washed away.
Two years ago they suffered major flooding and a concrete wall was then constructed. However, during the high tide the water “rides above the concrete wall and reaches the level of the dam.”
The sea defence board had protected the shores with boulders seven years ago but even that could not prevent the dam from eroding.
With most of the residents involved in farming, they lamented too that the water would undermine their farms and affect the quality of their produce. This has resulted in them suffering a “prices crisis.”
Desperate for the problem to be fixed, they made reports to the board at Den Amstel and highlighted it to the Ministry of Public Works and an official from the Ministry of Local Government.
They called on the authorities to be “proactive; they cannot wait until an emergency or for something happen and then act.”
In the meantime, the residents have been making efforts to protect the dam from eroding further by planting coconut trees at the edge.
They have also planted young mangrove trees at the affected spots but said it was “not helping because it’s mostly sand there.
Meanwhile, the residents said that a contract was awarded and revetment work was done near the koker seven months ago. They stressed though that the work was “not done up to standard at all and they have to use taxpayers’ money to fix it.”
The revetment has started to sink and “water reaches up to the road during the high tide.” According to them, since the work was in the embryo stage” they spoke to senior officials from sea defence and local government and the regional office “but nobody seemed to care.”
They were surprised that the engineer passed the work and said it was “all about friends. This is a big drainage sluice and they can’t protect it and they are speaking about caring for farmers and everybody.”
They said: today farmers punishing, regardless of whether this is agriculture month. We suffer many losses… We have a prices crisis in here. Sometimes we’re not even getting order for load [produce].”
The distressed residents said too: “They [government] telling us to plant more, grow more. But where are we going to sell it. The domestic market cannot consume… A large volume of produce would come out to the koker from the farms…”
They said too the canal has been clogged up for the longest while and that during the rainy season the water has nowhere to drain.