After millions of dollars were spent, embankment works done within the Oropouche Drainage Basin have failed. Angry residents and farmers say they are bracing for devastating floods this year.
President of the South Oropouche Riverine Flood Action group Edward Moodie said when work was done at the Blackwater Channel in February, the contractor piled slush and organic matter such as tree roots on the banks of the river.
“On February 22 we did a video where we condemned the works that were being done. The ministry was using the tree roots and organic matter and packing it on the banks of the river. That is organic material. It is going to rot.
“Part of the riverbank slide down in the river. If you want to build the riverbank, then use proper material to do so. Get rid of the organic material and put it on the open side. This is a failure and a waste of money,” Moodie said.
He said that many water courses were not cleaned in their entirety. Told that contractors are unable to get access to some watercourses, Moodie said floating excavators can be used.
“These floating excavators can move along the river and pull the material out. They could even bring in barges and put the organic material on it. We have been writing to the Minister of Works and contacting him via Whatsapp but we have not received any responses,” he said.
Moodie said two contractors were awarded contracts to clean the same river.
“We understand that the Ministry of Agriculture awarded a contract to clean the Teemul’s Channel in June last year but the works were never completed. The Ministry of Works later awarded another contract for the same river.The bank has been levelled off and this will cause massive flooding this year,” he said.
He added that the government’s failure to fix the flood gates is also destroying prime agricultural lands and the pristine pastures of Woodland.
“We are still seeing dead animals in the pastures because they are drinking saltwater. Many animals are continuing to be sick. The sheet flow of saltwater in Woodland has never happened before. The saltwater is no longer in the rivers, it is covering the wet pastures.
“The entire river in South Oropouche is under sea level and we anticipate that with the rise in sea levels, it is going to get worse in places like Woodland. The State has to use proper engineering designs to fix it,” Moodie said.
Another resident, Bridgelal Neebar, said he was disappointed there was no proper supervision of ongoing projects.
“We are not getting value for money. We are getting slipshod work. The riverbank collapsed before the floods have even hit the river, taking the road going to the Three Mouth. We have six to eight feet of water on this road and we want a meeting with the minister,” Neebar said.
Minister of Works Rohan Sinanan could not be reached for comment. However, in an earlier interview, he said $100 million had been allocated for a desilting programme to alleviate flooding. The final phase of the 400 project programme is expected to begin this month.