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Farmer Suzzie Mohammed points to the damage caused by a massive landslide from the safety of her shed

SHARLENE RAMPERSAD

An Arima farmer is appealing to the Ministry of Works and Transport to construct a retaining wall to save her farmlands after she said a contractor removed most of the riverbed earlier this year, causing widespread erosion.

Suzie Mohammed said she has been farming along the Tumpuna Road, Arima for most of her life without any issue.

But she said in late May, a private contractor began removing truckloads of boulders and gravel from the Arima River, which borders her farmland.

She said when she saw the equipment being driven along the riverbed, she called the police.

When officers arrived, she said they were handed several documents by the workmen on site.

“They produced a paper saying they had permission to take what they were taking from the river…they were taking the sand from the river, they were taking out the boulders and then they started taking out the sand…they just kept digging and in total, they took out several hundred truckloads of material,” Mohammed said.

She said the river she and her relatives bathed in as children is now destroying the only livelihood she has.

“When they were finished taking all they could take, now, every time it rains, the land started eroding. We never have that problem here before. So far, we have lost an entire lot of land and more keeps falling all the time.”

She said the contractor also created an ’S’ shape in the river where it previously flowed straight.

With the land already eroding, Mohammed said she is fearful about investing her hard-earned cash in another crop.

“I am trying to plant up the land but with the rate, it is eroding, in a few months where we standing right now will be gone,” she said.

She sent out an appeal to Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan for assistance.

“The authorities need to come and assess it and they need to put either a basket or put a retaining wall to save the land from going because it is getting worse, it has now taken as you see, the end of the shed and as long as the rain keeps falling, the earth itself keeps cracking out every time rain falls.”

Guardian Media contacted Sinanan, who asked that the information be sent via WhatsApp. He said he would forward the information to the Director of Drainage for an investigation.