A section of a riprap sea defence along the Corentyne Coast has been washed away, leaving the vulnerable Corentyne coast exposed to the ravages of the turbulent Atlantic Ocean.
The riprap sea defence was constructed three years ago, after sections of the beach that were used for farming began falling prey to the vagaries of the Atlantic Ocean. That project had entailed placing borders in a particular pattern to form a riprap sea defence, and the community between Numbers 59 and 61 Villages, covering a distance of about one mile, had been effectively protected.
The current breach in the sea defence at Number 61 Village has not been reported to regional authorities. Boulders from a section of the riprap have been seen scattered along the beach.
The contract to execute that work was awarded by the Public Works Ministry to A & S Contractors in December 2020, and a few months later, it was completed.
However, three years after its completion, the riprap sea defence is starting to give way, being no longer able to withstand the ocean’s constant banging. The project was deemed necessary back in 2020, following massive erosion to the then-sea defence.
“Today, what even the contractor did is washing away on both sides, the left and right. In 2022, the Government spent more than $40M to build the Number 61 beach entrance road, so people can have access to the beach from there. Now, you have a four-foot drop, and you can’t get to the beach because the riprap or the boulders are washing away,” a community activist in the area explained.
Gobin Harbhajan, who works out of the Office of the President, feels that Government is not getting value for money. He noted that similar sea defences are constructed around the Caribbean, and they last for decades.
“It is shocking to me that (this matter has not been reported when) we have an NDC not far away, and then we have RDC Councillors on the Upper Corentyne. This matter should have been highlighted at the level of the Ministry or even higher, so that they can get back the contractor. This is the last bank, and if the water rides over, it would run straight into the area where the people are doing farming,” Harbhajan said.
“That should have been done by the engineer or some other local person. We must hold engineers and contractors accountable for shady jobs that are going on in the country and the region,” he added.