Almost a year after the sea swallowed three homes and a portion of the road near the coast in Cedros, villagers are still fearful that more houses will collapse into the sea.
The gully formed in the wake of the massive landslip has continued to widen as no restorative work was ever done to stop the erosion.
When the T&T Guardian visited the area, the shells of the homes lay unoccupied on the precipice. To mark the anniversary of the calamity, which occurred on February 26, 2018, the villagers had painted a sign on a concrete wall which read, “ 2018 Disaster Strike, 5 15 pm, February.”
Fredrick Gore was seen lying on a hammock near one of the abandoned buildings.
Despite the danger, Gore said he liked the serenity of the place.
“I live on the other side and yes, I am worried that one day the sea will take all of this,” he said gesturing at the expansive landslip. Gore said the community lost its way when the sea took the land.
“People moved out, friendships were lost. We lost the village. Now people are staying in HDC houses and they have to pay for it. Before they did not have to pay rent. It really sad,” Gore said.
He called on the Government to do restorative works on the landslip to save the existing homes which could also collapse if the sea continued to gnaw the land. The collapsed road has never been reconnected and residents doubt it ever will.
David Jerome said even though it was almost a year since the anniversary of the disaster, nobody has returned to the village.
“When this happened even the Prime Minister came down. The Minister of Local Government, Minister of Works, ODPM, everyone was here but nothing happened. They still have done nothing to scape the land to prevent it from falling into the sea,” Jerome said.
Saying he was disappointed with the lack of response, Jerome said there was still time to save other properties from collapse. Blaming leaking water main for the erosion, Jerome said if proper maintenance was done, the village could have been saved.
Pointing to a rusty water line which protruded from the road, Jerome said for years the water line had been leaking.
“The land started to cut away from below and one evening, the houses started to crack and it dropped down. Now we can see the cesspit out in the sea,” he said. Latiff Mohammed, whose home once stood about an acre from the sea, has been among those who moved out.
Amos Joseph’s home was being constructed when the sea claimed the land and he had to abandon the project. Leroy Joseph’s home could cave any day into the sea. People who lime near the houses use the bushes around the landslip to defecate. The area has be4come a dumping ground.
Councillor for Cedros Shankar Teelucksingh said the corporation was committed to protecting the remaining homes but he said they were awaiting the report and recommendations from the Coastal Protection Unit before any work could be done. Teelucksingh said the main water line which runs through the village was locked off by WASA.
Saying about six acres of land along Bamboo Inner Road has already been destroyed, Teeklucksingh said if the Government did not do restorative work, more homes will collapse.
“The water has to be channelled out so that it will not cut into the land. The corporation wants to see the report from the Coastal Protection Unit so we can determine what could be done to protect the people’s property.” he added.
Contacted for comment, Minister of Local Government Kazim Hosein said he will liaise with the Siparia Regional Corporation’s chairman Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh and councillor Teelucksingh to see what kind of assistance could be given to the residents who currently live near the landslip.
Minister of Works Rohan Sinanan said the Coastal Protection Unit had conducted investigations and submitted a report. Asked why nothing was done to mitigate against further damage, Sinanan said he cannot comment unless he gets more information. He said he will look into the residents’ concerns.
- by Radhica De Silva. Photo by Kristian De Silva.