Sea claims three houses in Cedros

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.

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