Finance Ministry approves $460M for emergency sea defence works at Mahaicony

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The Ministry of Finance has approved a contingency allocation of over $400M to undertake emergency sea defence works at Mahaicony, East Coast Demerara.

During the recent spring tide period of July 31 to August 4, 2019, a section of the sea defence earthen embankment at Prospect, Mahaicony was severely eroded, resulting in the intrusion of substantial volumes of salted water into the Bellamy drainage Canal.

According to the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, there was no flooding to nearby agricultural lands, since the Bellamy Canal Sluice at the Mahaica River was operated during low tide to release excess water stored in the canal.

The Ministry of Finance was engaged on the provision of contingency financing to undertake permanent works at all the critical areas impacted by the erosion cycle.

As a result, a G$460 Million contingency allocation was approved to undertake permanent rip rap works and to secure other vulnerable sections within the 3 Kilometers stretch.

“The Contractor has commenced supplying rock materials to execute the revetment works with over 3,000 Tons of rock armour already delivered to site at Prospect,” the Ministry noted.

Commenting on the Ministry’s plan of action, Chief Sea and River Defence Officer, Kevin Samad said a contract was recently awarded to A & S General Contractors Inc. to construct 325 metres of permanent rock revetment structure at the Prospect area at a contract sum of G$160 million dollars.

This is to supplement previous emergency intervention that was implemented along the Prospect area earlier this year during the months of March and April 2019.

In addition to this breach at Prospect, the Ministry of Public Infrastructure has been undertaking emergency flood protection works to restore separate breaches along the sea defence embankment between Fairfield and Dantzig, Mahaicony.

The Ministry only recently completed sealing 125 metres of sea defence which was affected on July 6, 2019 at Dantzig. This was done with boulder materials stockpiled for the construction of a rock armour revetment at Prospect since water was already seeping into cultivated rice lands.

Samad said there have been a number of challenges faced in implementing flood prevention measures Mahaicony.

According to the statement, Samad said a significant degradation of the natural sea defence system along a 3 kilometres stretch of shoreline between Fairfield and Dantzig has occurred over the last six months.

He further explained that due to the erosion and accretion cycle characteristic of the Guyana coast, progressive movement of mud and silt from the Mahaicony foreshore has resulted in the rapid depletion of the mangroves which has left the earthen embankment in several sections completely exposed to direct wave action.

Whereas, the area was for many years protected by a natural flood protection system, it has become necessary for a resilient man-made sea defence to be constructed.

The rainy season also continues to have adverse impacts on the progress of works since the access dams are currently in a deplorable state, he said.

The shortest access dam is over 2 kilometres long and maneuvering with lorries and earth moving equipment are restricted due to the continue inclement weather.

Nevertheless, the emergency works are ongoing and to date, over 7500 tons of boulders have already been delivered within the Prospect/Dantzig area via barges by A & S General Contractors Inc.

The Ministry also noted that a 90 feet long heavy-duty timber bridge was recently completed at Dantzig across the Bellamy Canal since the only other access bridge across the Bellamy Canal is approximately 3 kilometres away at Fairfield.

Completed timber bridge to cross the Bellamy canal at Dantzig, Mahaicony, East Coast Demerara

Additionally, a tender was opened at the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) on Tuesday, 9 July 2019 to construct an additional 350 metres of rip rap structure between Prospect and Broomhall under phase 2 of the Project.

The Ministry of Public Infrastructure would like to reassure residents and farmers of the Mahaicony area that continuous efforts are being made to monitor the sea defences and interventions are being arranged to expeditiously reinforce vulnerable sections to prevent flooding.

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