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Wednesday 24 July 2019
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Los Iros farmers lose 25 acres of crops

File photo: Farmer Kumar Dwarika points to one of the damaged access road caused by the earthquake  in Los Iros.
File photo: Farmer Kumar Dwarika points to one of the damaged access road caused by the earthquake in Los Iros. PHOTO BY ANIL RAMPERSAD.

OF the 50 acres of land at Los Iros damaged by the last Tuesday’s magnitude 6.9 earthquake and aftershocks, 25 acres had crops including vegetables and fruits.

An official from the Agriculture, Land and Fisheries Ministry yesterday said that it was too early to estimate the cost of the damage to crops and infrastructure.

“Individual damage assessment data forms are being prepared. When that is completed only then, we can have the figures. It is an ongoing process and we are working with the Rural Development and Local Government Ministry,” she said.

When the first tremor shook the nation, it caused landslides which severely damaged agricultural lands off Royal Engineer Road in an area called Hillview at Los Iros, near Erin. When the cracks opened, several access roads became impassable for farmers to get to their produce. The earth swallowed two water-pumps and tools belonging to farmer Nobbie Mathura. Three pieces of his equipment – an excavator, a basin plough and a disc banker– were parked in the yard of the family’s camp and dropped into the cracks.

There was damage to farmers’ irrigation systems and stock houses. The water from ponds, some of which had tilapias and cascaduras pitched into the air and fell into cracks.

The Agriculture, Land and Fisheries Ministry reported 50 farmers were affected by a major landslide on agricultural state lands at Los Iros. About 50 acres of land were affected and the existing irrigation ponds and farmhouses are to be repaired.

Farmers of the Los Iros Hillview Association said they are pleased with Government’s response to the natural disaster.

“My husband said that some of the cracks have gotten bigger since Tuesday. I am scared to return there in the lands knowing how it used to look before the quake. We feel positive that they will really help but I know it is a procedure and we are being positive,” said farmer Neisha Mathura.

Damage assessments and needs analysis and damage and loss assessments are continuing nationwide.

Yesterday, the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) said the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) is coordinating assessments of all critical infrastructure, government buildings, and roadways after seismic activity.

The ODPM said several government ministries and other agencies continue assessments on government/government-used critical facilities, including educational institutions and other building stock. Some of these agencies are the Works and Transport Ministry supported by civil engineer volunteers, the Urban Development Corporation of TT, the Tobago Emergency Management Agency and the Fire Service.

“Representatives from various state agencies continue to be stationed at the NEOC to maintain general situational awareness and to coordinate the assessment process,” it said.

Numerous reports of minor structural damage to residential, commercial and government/government-used infrastructure were reported after the 6.9 magnitude earthquake on Tuesday at 5.31 p.m.

The ODPM advised citizens to stay calm given that aftershocks will continue, and some may be at a magnitude large enough to be felt. It also said TT is not under any tsunami watch or warning.

“If a government agency requires an assessment to be conducted, please contact the Ministry of Works and Transport Hotline at 625-6813,” it said.

According to the Rural Development and Local Government Ministry, initial damage assessments have already been completed in Arima, Sangre Grande, Mayaro/Rio Claro, Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo, Port of Spain, Chaguanas and Point Fortin. Assessments for the other seven corporations are ongoing.

The ministry received 326 reports of structural damages of which 217 were completed to date.

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