Sluice Gate Collapses and inundates Kingston Georgetown- March 12, 2013 – videos + updates

Engineers work feverishly to repiar broken Koker wich inundated the Kingston area – 13th Mar 2013 – video update

Sluice Gate Collapses and inundates Kingston Georgetown – March 12, 2013 video

CapitolNews – March 12,2013 – Water poured into the Canals, drains and gutters and reached into yards as a Koker collapsed under the strain of pounding High Tides this afternoon. The vulnerable Koker or sluice gates of the Kingston Ward of Georgetown, have been under pressure recently resulting in flooding in that part of the city over the last few months.

This afternoon, it came crashing down inundating not only that Ward of Georgetown, but water was seen pouring into North Cummingsburg, that houses the Prime Minister’s residence, State House, the President’s residence and the offices of the British High Commission among other businesses.

The Kingstown Ward has the Pegasus Hotel, the site of the controversial Marriott Hotel construction complex and offices of DDL, GBTI and the headquarters of the Police and Digicel among others.           

The sluice door attendants related what happened around 4:30 this afternoon[March 12, 2013], when the High Tides lashed the doors.

Officially, the Minister responsible for Public Works Robeson Benn claimed, that there is not much that the Central Government could have done when the doors broke.

Residents in low lying areas had been warned that there were going to be abnormally high tides and they needed to take precautions. With this incident, it appears that even the administration did not expect to deal with what is now a worst case scenario.

Updated: Repairs to collapsed City koker continue ahead of next high tide

DemeraraWaves – March 12, 2013 – Racing to beat the next high tide expected early Wednesday morning, engineers continued remedial work Tuesday night at a Kingston drainage sluice whose door failed during high tide and prompted a flood warning for several areas in Georgetown.

They include Kingston, places along and near the Railway Embankment including parts of Newtown-Kitty and Campbelville.

Public Works Minister, Robeson Benn said the koker door at the head of the Cowan Street (CummingsCanal) failed. [Read more]


Tide smashes Kingston koker door – Stabroek News

Posted By Mandy Thompson On March 13, 2013 – Stabroek News Report

 Sections of Georgetown were flooded yesterday afternoon after high tides bashed the Kingston koker door in and engineers were at press time putting in place a temporary wall to keep out the next high tide scheduled for 5.21 am today.

The koker door broke around minutes to 5pm yesterday, the attendant stated, and water from the Demerara River rushed through nearby areas. The attendant also said that the door broke due to the force of the water that was hitting it. Up to press time, the situation was under control and the water had begun to recede in parts of Georgetown including the Lamaha Street canal. [Read More]

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  • Cyril balkaran  On March 13, 2013 at 8:44 am

    This should have never happened had there been a Program of Maintenance works by this Division of the Ministry of Works. This happened in 1958 when this very Koker collapsed and for hours the workers battled to repair and fix this problem. Water of the high tide swept through the canals and trenches of Georgetown, Kitty and Campbellville and reaching as far as Ogle and environs and not to talk of the abundance of salt water fishes that it brought to town. I Was eleven years old then and enjoyed myself pulling out big fishes from the Forty feet canal passing through Campbellville. Even the School yard had a lot of fishes floating around. We must prepare for the High tides at all times, or pay the price for our seemingly negligence!

  • de castro  On March 13, 2013 at 10:19 am

    What next…

    Let’s hope it “wakes” Guyana and Guyanese from their 50 year slumber…

    Build all future infrastructer (roads et all) further inland on higher ground…

    Its not too late !

    Begin yesterday !


    • Tony Bollers  On March 13, 2013 at 2:18 pm

      Well said Kampitan! ……Global Warming = Much higher Spring Tides! Start thinking and planning to move to a new Capital City to higher ground……It should start now. The rising Oceans will not stop. Ask the Dutch Government, they know.

  • Clyde Duncan  On March 13, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    The City of Georgetown is a small fraction of the size of the City of Richmond in British Columbia, Canada. When I first relocated here in 1973, it reminded me of Guyana, with the trenches along-side the streets and wooden bridges to cross from the street to the property line. Later, the City started burying culverts in the ditches, installing sidewalks on top and widening the streets. If you came to Richmond, B.C. today, you would not see what I saw forty years ago.

    My point is, we need to devise a plan to dig up the canals we buried around the City of Georgetown and bury culverts so that the streams will run under the streets and avenues. I suspect it would be cheaper than relocating the city to higher ground – but relocating the city is an excellent idea; because they could bury the culverts for the drainage and tubes for the power transmission wires, the cable tv and telephone wires and not have the overhead poles and wires all over the place – it looks a mess! Visit a modern city and you will see houses, and street lamps and streets and sidewalks; driveways and houses and businesses – clean! Like the song says, “…as long as a man has the strength to dream, he could redeem his soul and fly!”

  • de castro  On March 13, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    Nice one Clyde…a carnival song comes to mind…

    “Dream on its free ” and dreams can come true….


  • Rosaliene Bacchus  On March 13, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    A warning of what lies ahead if we don’t strengthen our sea defense system.

  • Mewburn H. Humphrey, Ph.D.,P.E., PMP  On March 13, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    RE The Sluice Gate Collapse:
    We have to start from somewhere. We must determine all of the lessons learnt from this experience and drop them into a new infrastructure Lessons Learnt Database, for future use, reference, and application to similar or new projects.
    The next thing we should be doing is developing an infrastructure management program for all the mapped infrastructure elementsin our cities, towns, villages etc (may need some consultant help on this) to determine what of our infrastructure elements is in a state of good repair, when will the respective elements require maintenance and upkeep, or immediate replacement, if the deterioration is severe (preventing failure/collapse). These entities will have to be managed separately. Annual monitoring of the mapped elements and plotting their state would give a good prediction on treatment schedules and physical requirements for each element. [This may be a good Senior Project for the UG Engineering students that could grow with each graduating class’s final project. The senior project here in the USA at the City College of NY has been developing a planning, design and construction outlook for the Goethals Replacement Bridge Project, and which has been very successful].
    Maintenance and upkeep can be done at relatively low cost, if done in a timely manner. Where it gets costly and messy is when we defer maintenance and upkeep costs. Here deterioration continues until we get to that state where repair becomes similar to simply applying a band aid to a severe wound, where no minor remedy would suffice, and then costly reconstruction would be the only solution – or worse, an unexpected collapse occurs and then there is mayhem and confusion, and even more funds are required to replace the element.
    Now let’s get to work!

  • Cyril Balkaran  On March 14, 2013 at 7:46 am

    Guyana is 11ft below sea level and the entire East and West Coasts are vulnerable to the natural events as Spring Tides, high tides. There are weak spots along the 68 miles east coast and the authorities in the Ministry of Works are aware of them. They will only act when the high drama starts. They do not understand the meanings of Preventative maintence. Ignore this and enjoy the fruits of your own peril!

  • C R Geoff Stephen  On March 14, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    “Officially, the Minister responsible for Public Works Robeson Benn claimed, that there is not much that the Central Government could have done when the doors broke.” No Mr. Benn you cannot because as Cyril Balkaran says, ” had there been a Program of Maintenance works by this Division of the Ministry of Works. ” the whole incident would have been avoided. Yes Minister Benn, the responsibility.lies squarely on your shoulders. As Minister you are responsible for the planning and maintenance of all public works in the country. Georgetown, being the capital city requires greater focus as it is the face of the country. Just like the first thing you look at with a woman is her face, similarly Georgetown is the first thing you look at when visiting Guyana.

    According to Cyril Balkaran, “Guyana is 11ft below sea level and the entire East and West Coasts are vulnerable to the natural events as Spring Tides, high tides.” This is a dangerous position to be in, as Tony Bollers points out, “Global Warming = Much higher Spring Tides!” This means that Guyana will be faced with much more of these “disasters” in the very near future. While Mewburn H. Humphrey does suggest a way forward on a localized level, but this is a long term solution. For an immediate solution, Bollers suggestion of contracting with the Dutch is an excellent one, given the fact that we still continue to use the Dutch’s infrastructural constructions. Suriname is similarly below see level Mr. Minister, have you ever visited that country to see how the Surinamers deal with their flood problems? Similarly a visit to Clyde Duncan’s, City of Richmond, British Columbia, Canada, would also be instructive.

    The problems of Guyana is manifold, but the solutions are very simple and need not cost a lot of money. Indeed when one considers Guyana with less than a million people the majority of them living below the poverty level…it is a crying shame and a condemnation of all previous governments from Burnham to Ramotar. Under no circumstances should this be the case given our stable population and past wealth and more importantly potential wealth. Further, this wealth has been not only mismanaged but also given away to the detriment of the Guyanese people. Given that there are so many expatriate Guyanese with a wealth of knowledge that can be harnessed to make Guyana again the “Garden City” of the Caribbean. Only and if only the current government can move from restrictive political policies and practices to a more inclusive and open one. But that I’m sure is a Guyanese dream.

  • Clyde Duncan  On March 14, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    “You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
    To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” – Richard Buckminster Fuller

  • Ron Persaud  On March 17, 2013 at 1:28 am

    I am flabbergasted!
    The (temporary) fix for this emergency has been around for years!!!
    The (koker) door is a well engineered water control device.
    The width is limited; that is why some channels have two doors instead of one wide door.
    The thickness of the individual planks, the recess of the metal/concrete grooves up and down which the door slides and the slim clearance between planks and grooves, all combine to to maintain the integrity of the door against the stresses imposed upon it by the buffeting waves.
    The door must ot break!
    The door must not jump out of the groove(s)!
    Pitch, oakum and tar; grease were the consumable stores; and regular rigorous inspection were not options.
    They were conditions of employment for “koker watchmen” and supervisory staff.
    But wait. I am not yet done.
    The last line of resistance were the emergency check planks. These were carefully measured and sawn planks, stored so that they would not warp. They were clearly identified.
    And they would fit into the spare grooves that were part of columnar construction of the Koker. When a door broke, these planks were taken and man-handled into position. A functional check would be effected and effective. It would allow time and respite from the tide while a replacement door would be constructed.
    I cannot be convinced that the tidal conditions around “4:30 this afternoon[March 12, 2013]”, were worse than any time before; and I am not going to tell you that kokers did not “break away” in spite of all the precautions. Nevertheless it is distressing to observe that past lessons seem not to have been learnt.
    “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” (Santayana).

  • gigi  On March 17, 2013 at 1:49 am

    Repairing and improving the infrastructure is the most feasible solution here. GT and surrounding areas are too established to just up and move further inwards. Stuff happens. Just look at what recently happened in NY and NJ with hurricane Sandy. Now the mayor of NY is planning to build a wall around NYC, an island, because of rising sea levels.

    The Guyana gov’t should ask the British and American gov’t for help repairing its infrastructure. High time Guyana is recompensed for all the plundering these two govt’s carried out on Guyana.

    Clyde Duncan’s suggestion of utilizing culverts and covering over them with sidewalks and streets is a brilliant suggestion and should be considered. This will reduce exposure to contaminated water that carry water borne diseases and bacteria. These exposed dirty trenches/drains are a magnet for kids fishing for tadpoles and “kakabelly” fish, not to mention mosquitos too.

  • de castro  On March 17, 2013 at 6:46 am

    Having read all the above comments/suggestions I am still not convinced
    that it will avoid future floodings….GT has flooded before GT will flood again.
    Long term solutions should be considered.
    Moving city is such a solution….not to mention the fire hazard GT
    is..sometimes it is more cost effective to demolish a building and rebuild it than to
    maintain it….GT will remain the “old city’ with “new city’ further inland..
    BRAZILLIA comes to mind…many will remain in GT preferring the old
    city but am sure most will move.
    Have a referendum/survey ‘ask the people’ it is their CITY
    Political correctness.

    Am sure Guyana neighbours Brazil Suriname Venezuela would
    be interested in its development …even building their in fracture
    with this in mind..linking NEW GT with their nearby cities.

    As for funding this investment am sure development aid funds are
    already available for the purpose..

    Sometimes we dream but we can make our dreams reality.


    • Rosaliene Bacchus  On March 17, 2013 at 5:49 pm

      Agree with you, Kamptan. The plan to re-locate the capital should have started yesterday. Such a major move takes years of planning before construction can even begin.

  • Ron Persaudl  On March 17, 2013 at 11:10 am

    “Having read all the above comments/suggestions I am still not convinced
    that it will avoid future floodings….”
    The short answer is that the statement is accurate.
    The long answer is that flooding is a product of precipitation (the amount of rain) and elevation (the slope of the land).
    And there is a phenomenon called ‘the hundred year flood’. That (usually disastrous) event in every area of human activity which will overcome all preparations to avoid it.
    The elevation part of the equation is the problem in Guyana. The average annual rainfall at LBI/Ogle was a manageable 100 inches during my time.
    Sea-dams, back-dams sea-walls, kokers and sluices, groynes etc. have all shown their usefulness – and their limitations in this unrelenting battle against a formidable force of nature.
    A disastrous magnification; the worst case scenario of Mother Nature doing her thing was hurricane Katrina.
    Can anyone deny that the US used the minds, money, materials and methods to prepare against or even avoid such a catastrophic confluence of (high) precipitation and (low) elevation?
    After all, this is the country that built the Hoover Dam!
    There is an American idiom that “Mother Nature bats last” Hurricane Katrina was an excellent example.
    So what is Guyana to do?
    Do what has always worked. The three most important words are MAINTENANCE.
    And when it is working… Fix it!
    Maintenance of all water control structures along the Atlantic coast, rivers and conservancies must take a very high priority. Failure can cause immediate (flood) damage and, more serious, salt intrusion on prime agricultural land.
    Country defence first. Sea defence second.
    When the emergency occurs, there is a scramble for remedy.
    But after the dust settles, things can be tweaked to work better; structures can be updated, new technologies can be installed.
    Anyone who experienced the collapse of the cane hoist at LBI will remember the temporary “cane gantry” constructed to get the crop ‘off the ground’; and the spanking new gantry which was completed in time for the next crop.


  • de castro  On March 17, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    Hate to tempt faith…what about a tsunami sometime in future…
    The best suggestion so far must be to visit Suriname to see what
    they have in place before commenting further…
    We can all learn from our mistakes even from others.

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