Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 3rd 2018 Contents A6 news
Saturday, March 3, 2018
Sea taking Guayaguayare homes too
RADHICA DE SILVA
While the nation is currently fo-
cusing on the current coastal ero-
sion disaster afflicting residents
of Bamboo Village, Cedros, yet
another community has been
plagued by the same woes long
Perched on a cliff above the
Atlantic Ocean, the remnants of
Paul Rattan's house in Guayagua-
yare stand still. The windows are
cracked and the back porch and
gazebo, where Rattan's children
once played, have fallen into the
For the irst time since he aban-
doned the house a year ago, Rat-
tan returned yesterday and he
broke down in tears when he saw
the state of his beloved home.
About 25 houses at Old Guaya-
guayare Road, Guayaguayare, are
being ravaged by the encroach-
ing sea and while geologists and
environmentalists blame climate
change, the residents say infra-
structural development on the
East Coast exacerbated coastal
erosion. About 100 feet of the
Old Guayaguayare Road has been
claimed by the sea and during
high tides, the ocean near Sea-
wall washes into the residents'
Rattan, 73, a former Port Au-
thority worker, said his dream
was to build a house near the
sea. His ive children were born
at the house and Rattan said all
of his best memories were there.
"I don't like to come back here.
When I see what has happened it
is very dif icult," Rattan said.
He explained that about 50 feet
of land behind his home has al-
ready fallen away into the sea.
"I had orange trees planted
here and a gazebo. The sea took
everything. When the water
started cutting away at the foun-
dation, my wife and I had to
leave and go to live with my son,"
His neighbour Theophilus
Mitchell, 85, faces a similar pre-
dicament, but unlike Rattan,
Mitchell said he had no desire to
leave his house to live with rela-
tives although he knew his house
could easily fall into the sea. Say-
ing he has already lost over an
acre of land over a 25-year pe-
riod, Mitchell said if he received
safe lodging near his home he
would gladly move, but if the
Government did not move him
he would stay in his crumbling
house until it was gone.
At nights, Mitchell says he
hears chunks of the cliff falling
away into the sea. The waves
crash on the open cliff but he
says he tries to block off the ter-
"What could I do? I cannot put
my house on four wheels and roll
it down the hill. It will go one day.
People don't understand that the
water and the land have a bond.
If you ill up the sea the water has
to go somewhere," Mitchell said.
He explained that a 700-foot
channel was back illed a few
years ago to accommodate an
infrastructural project and since
then land erosion has sped up.
Neighbour Avalon Timothy
said last month she did a peti-
tion and submitted it to their MP,
Rushton Paray, calling for a de-
tailed investigation into the cause
of the erosion. Timothy said they
needed immediate relocation for
10 residents directly affected.
Saying there was a Housing
Development Corporation set-
tlement in Coconut Grove, Rio
Claro, Timothy suggested it was
time for the residents to get as-
"Many Parliamentarians have
visited here and they all agree
that relocation is needed as soon
as possible, but nothing is being
done," Timothy added.
At Sea Wall, Shaquille Bryan
said their home was also being
undermined. He said during high
tides the water splashes on their
back wall, eating away at their
Restorative work on Lady
Young Road continues
Restorative works on the Lady
Young Road in Morvant is taking
longer than expected due to the
steep terrain and hard rocks em-
bedded in the landscape, the Of-
ice of Disaster Preparedness and
Management said yesterday.
The roadway, which is a major
artery into and out of Port-of-
Spain, was expected to be fully
reopened to the public yesterday,
but ODPM head Captain Neville
Wint said they were unable to
complete the work due to the
problem and now hope to do so
On Thursday, after the rubble
was cleared following the second
landslip, Ministry of Works and
Transport of icials noticed there
were overhanging rocks that
could come down at any time.
A decision was then made to
bring the debris down manually
before it happens naturally.
But Wint said they had to bring
in an excavator to do this and on
Thursday night work was done to
establish a platform on which the
excavator could operate.
Wint told Guardian Media
the intention is not to just clear
the rocks but to create steps or
'bench' the slope so as to do away
with its steep gradient, which
could allow for more land slips.
One lane of the road was still
opened yesterday morning and
afternoon during peak traf ic
Motorists drive past the section of the Lady Young Road affected by the recent landslide yesterday.
PICTURE DION ROACH
Contacted yesterday, Paray
called on Government to
relocate the families. Say-
ing the rate of erosion was
about one metre per year,
Paray said emergency hous-
ing must be provided for at
least four families who have
been forced to evacuate
their homes. Having raised
the matter in Parliament,
Paray called on Government
to investigate the destruc-
tion and compensate fami-
lies for loss of property.
"While I understand the
infrastructural works re-
quired to stop the erosion is
a long term assignment, the
welfare of residents should
be a high priority. Tempo-
rary relocation and perma-
nent resettlement is a high
priority for my constituents
and I urge Government to
take immediate relief in
the shortest possible time,"
Local Government Minis-
ter Kazim Hosein said yes-
terday that he will visit the
area next week.
He said the Coastal Pro-
tection Unit, which falls
under Works and Transport
Minister Rohan Sinanan, will
also investigate. Efforts to
contact Sinanan on his cell-
phone were unsuccessful
and he did not respond to
Whatsapp messages yester-
Paul Rattan shows the damage which his house has suffered due to coastal
erosion at Old Guayaguayare Road, Guayaguayare, yesterday. Rattan
abandoned his home a year ago, as he feared it would fall into the ocean.
PICTURE KRISTIAN DE SILVA
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