Compensation for flooded Little Diamond residents being sought

As local authorities attempt to remedy breach of dam

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In just about four months, some residents of Little Diamond on the East Bank of Demerara (EBD) grappled with floodwaters on four separate occasions and with the Monday morning flood being the most disastrous thus far; this time around, compensation is being sought from the contractor working in the area.

Early Monday morning, at around 03:00 hrs, a high tide breached the sea defence where the construction of a koker has been ongoing since 2017. According to affected residents, however, this was not the first time floodwaters affected them.

Habeeb Franklin, a resident who lives next to the koker, said there was a breach on Old Year’s night into New Year’s morning. Then, he said there was another breach on Sunday. It was that unresolved Sunday breach that resulted in greater catastrophe on Monday morning, when the high tide was at its highest.

Affected resident, Habeeb Frankling

Franklin, like many of the residents in the area, lamented that the floodwaters damaged their furniture, appliances and supplies. Some residents lost their livestock and cash crops.

Franklin and his neighbour, Bibi Zoreena were busy cleaning her home when the News Room visited on Monday midday. They both showed the damages that they suffered due to the floodwaters.

“The people in Little Diamond right now are hurting… I saw persons crying, frustrated (and) none of it is their fault,” Minister within the Ministry of Public Works, Deodat Indar said on Monday after visiting the flood-affected area.

He related that the breach was exacerbated by the negligent work being done by the contracting company responsible for constructing the koker. According to him, an excavator sank while works were being done and that created a hole in the dam. Subsequently, he said that efforts were made to fortify the dam but the work done was subpar.

He also highlighted that this was not the first breach but rather, the fourth since the sea defence was breached on New Year’s day, on Phagwah Day (March 28), on Sunday and then again, on Monday.

Minister Indar said that the contractor was at fault and should compensate the affected residents. He said Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mustapha would be dealing with “whatever legal avenues he can” to bring relief to the people.

The flood water affecting residents’ homes on Monday morning. In the background, the incomplete koker is seen

When contacted by the News Room, Minister Mustapha said, “The contractor and the operators’ negligence caused the erosion and I agree that the residents should be compensated by the contractors.”

He said that a “lackadaisical approach” was taken in building up back the dam and this resulted in the residents suffering tremendous damages. As such, he would be looking into getting compensation for the residents.

The News Room understands that discussions are ongoing among Minister of Public Works, Juan Edghill, Minister Indar, Minister Mustapha and a number of stakeholders including officials from the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) to see what compensation can be provided to the residents.

Meanwhile, the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) noted that approximately 100 households were affected; residents sustained damages to property and supplies. Cleaning hampers and food supplies are being distributed to them.

Officers of the CDC and Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) are conducting a house-to-house assessment to understand the extent of the damages.

On Monday afternoon, the contractors were working to repair the breach since another high tide was expected on Monday afternoon and early Tuesday morning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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