Stories by RADHICA DE SILVA
Debris from the Mosquito Creek Highway construction works has blocked estuaries of the South Oropouche Drainage basin, affecting birds, plants and marine life.
Guardian Media took a tour of the Godineau swamp situated alongside the South Trunk Road, near Mosquito Creek on Friday and saw a bird trapped in the debris near the clogged Mosquito Creek River.
Chunks of concrete, steel rods, gravel and matting from the project site, littered the river. This prevented the flow of water.
The swamp is the breeding ground for 29 species of fish and numerous species of crustacean crabs, oysters, mammals, rodents, reptiles, amphibians and birds.
The mangroves act as a buffer between the sea and the land and is a feeding ground for shrimp and other commercial sea organisms that feed on the nutrients deposited at the mouth of the river.
But since the blockage, the Mosquito Creek River has become narrow and no longer flows freely into the sea.
President of the South Oropouche Riverine Flood Action Group Edward Moodie said the river mouth near the bridge is 80 feet wide. However, when you trek a quarter mile down the river, it has narrowed to less than two feet.
Standing inside the river, Moodie said, “With the construction of the highway, the contractor pushed the waste material into the river. Look at what they have done. We need the Ministry of Works to act now and clear this river so that the flooding inland can flow freely and drain the Oropouche Basin.”
He explained that six months ago, he spoke to officials from the Drainage Division and supplied video footage of the clogged river.
“We are willing to take the officials down the river so they can see what is happening. This is affecting the estuary. Fishes from the sea come into the brackish water of the mangrove and reproduce. The fingerlings stay here but with the river being clogged, the fishes can no longer go up the river and spawn because the river does not exist anymore. This will impact negatively on the fisheries in the sea and will lead to a depletion of fishes in the ocean,” Moodie said.
President of the Woodland Flood Action group said his community is seriously affected by the perennial flooding. However, he said if the water starts to flow once again from the Mosquito Creek River and two other estuaries, then the community could drain faster following heavy rains.
“The rainy season is expected to get worse and we are bracing for more floods. If they can clean these estuaries back to the cremation site bridge which is already blocked, we can get rid of 30 per cent of the flooding in our community,” Singh said.
He said while they were grateful that the Ministry of Works had secured two pumps for the area, they wanted it to be installed as soon as possible.
“We understand in some areas they had to block the watercourses to do the highway works but now that the works were completed, they need to clear back these clogged watercourses,” Singh said.
He called on the Ministry to bring in amphibian equipment to clear the watercourses.
Contacted for comment, Minister of Works Rohan Sinanan said he will contact his team from the Drainage Division to investigate the matter and see what can be done.