Karakara, Speightland residents call for desilting of creeks, river  

A resident standing in a section of the river that needs desilting to demonstrate how shallow it has become
Sand build-up at a section of the river

…say farmlands, livelihoods affected

Residents of the Speightland and Karakara communities in Linden, Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) are appealing for sections of the creeks and the Demerara River area to be desilted. According to the residents, sections of the waterways in the communities are severely blocked due to bauxite overburden sediments caused by mining activities.
They noted that this is an issue which has been affecting them for a number of years as farmers explained that many farmlands are under water.
Residents further explained to this publication that some sections of the river and creeks which they utilise as modes of transportation have been rendered impassible.
Speaking with this publication, affected resident Eddy Edwards noted that the situation gets even worse when there is low tide.
“The issue is the sand that comes from the mines area – the tail end that draws to the creek…we’re looking for assistance…” he indicated.
The resident added that there is a severe blockage which has caused a section of the community’s creek to disappear.
“We had to cut a small channel to pass and it’s very hard to pass sometimes. It’s worse now,” he said.
Edwards said he has made requests to the mining company in the area in the past but no assistance has since been granted.
The issue, he noted, has had major effects on the livelihood of residents.
“People need to use their land to farm, but right now it is under water, for ‘umpteen’ years…people does work up here, I mean for themselves, like lumber; Amerindians accustomed to farming, fishing. Now it’s become a even more bigger issue because it not only blocking the creek but the river too,” Edwards pointed out.
Farmers of the predominantly Amerindian community, Speightland, utilise the creeks and rivers to transport their produce and according to Shouldel Persaud, a resident, it is difficult to traverse with paddles or speedboats due to the shallowness of the creeks and river.
He noted too that this often results in damages to the boats.
“Sometimes you come out here [to a section of the creek] and you can’t pass. It’s pure sand, no water. Every day you carrying out your greens you got to come out and push in your boat when you meet out at the creek mouth. If is high tide you could drive in but time like now [low tide] you got to come in and push in your boat. Otherwise to that, you got to wait til the water rise to come in back. That is the problem”, he noted.
At a particular section of the river, one can actually walk to the middle without any hassle as was demonstrated by a resident.
Persaud pointed out that years ago, residents got some relief after the affected areas were dug by an excavator but he said the issue has since returned.
According to Edwards, there is need for proper maintenance of the areas to prevent the issue from recurring.
“The Government should desilt this creek, get some sort of dredge operation. They need to build back the depth and they have to keep servicing it all the time because more the depth goes more sand will go. So they have to keep clearing it all the time. The other thing is, they got to do a diversion, re-channel the creek. That will serve a lot of the problems here – get all the lands that under water dry”, he said.
Edwards said he is even willing to secure a dredge to undertake the works if he is given a contract to do so. But he noted that he is still sceptical that anyone will look into the issue since residents have been making this request for years.
“This is a really big issue and nobody is paying attention,” he noted. (Utamu Belle)