Main access road in Aishalton destroyed during major flooding
By Isanella Patoir
The community of Aishalton and surrounding villages in Region Nine are now cut off from Lethem following days of heavy rainfall and flooding which resulted in the main access road being completely destroyed.
The community has endured approximately three weeks of heavy rainfall.
Toshao Michael Thomas told the News Room during a telephone interview Tuesday that the area becomes swampy and turns into a creek during the rainy season.
“Three weeks ago it started, the breakage started [and] every day a piece wash away and today [Tuesday] it is completely washed away and it is expanding with the volume of water [that] keep flowing,” Thomas said.
According to the Toshao, every year the same spot on the road washes away and is replaced by wood, however, he is recommending that concrete is used when rebuilding.
He said in 2017 and 2018 after a section of the road was destroyed, residents placed boulders and made a temporary bridge so that vehicles could have traversed.
However, the Toshao said this year the situation is worse.
“This year it even got worst, the area is bigger,” Thomas said.
According to Thomas, there is another access road out of the village but it is more than 25 miles away through a village called Awarewaunau.
The Toshao said villagers and businesses are being affected because they cannot get food and fuel into the village from Lethem.
“The Aishalton/Lethem road is the main access in and out,” Thomas said.
The Toshao said residents from seven villages utilize the Aishalton road to get to Lethem.
“We need urgent attention, we need immediate works to be done because it has been affecting us tremendously, especially the business people in the area and also the health sector where we have to take patients on an ambulance out to Lethem,” Thomas told the News Room.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Public Infrastructure and the Ministry of Natural Resources in a statement Tuesday noted that regional engineers are on the ground and are currently in consultations with the Regional Executive Officer about the way forward.
“The two Ministries understand the importance of this access road to the livelihood of the residents in and around Aishalton,” the statement noted.
They are hoping for a timely resolution to the main access road given its importance to the livelihood of the residents in and around Aishalton.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Photos courtesy of Michael Thomas