Sea threatens school, statue at Gran Chemin

Villagers look at the leaning statue of St Peter at Moruga Road, Grand Chemin. - Marvin Hamilton
Villagers look at the leaning statue of St Peter at Moruga Road, Grand Chemin. - Marvin Hamilton

Staff and parents of students attending the Moruga (St Rita’s) RC School met with the MP last week Wednesday to discuss relocation plans owing to aggressive coastal erosion.

Last month, part of the school’s concrete wall collapsed, and a chain-linked fence was later put up. There are also huge cracks in other parts of the walls at Gran Chemin. When Newsday visited, waves were crashing against the remaining walls and making them more unstable.

"The fence does not fix anything because the land is being shortened every day as the sea takes back the land," a parent told Newsday.

"When there is a high tide, children get wet on the compound. Most parents do not mind relocation. But those who live and work in the area want the school to remain here. In the meeting, the MP said it is easy to pick up and move since it (the school) is made up of containers," the parent added.

Seawater, parents said, is already undermining the prefabricated building. Even security guards, they say, complain about the rumbling of the water under the booth in the still of the night when the tide is high.

In August 2015, part of the wooden school collapsed, and it was later demolished owing to dilapidation. The students were housed in part at Dr Lovell Francis’ constituency office in Bois Jean Jean and at La Lune RC School.

IN DANGER: The Moruga (St Rita's) RC School which is being threatened by the encroaching sea. - Marvin Hamilton

Classes resumed at the original location in early 2016 when they received prefab containers. It houses 109 students.

Posing more threat to lives is the nearby statue of St Peter – the patron saint of fishermen according to Catholic teachings. The leaning statue, the base of which has been eroded by the seawater, is about 20 feet tall and is on the brink of collapse.

A villager, Eric Lewis, built the monument in 2012.

PTA president Popedeo Sookhai told Newsday that the health and safety of the students and staff are a priority.

"Some parents want to move, and others don’t. Some say if the school relocates, Gran Chemin would become a ghost town and everything will go backwards. The school plays a great part in the history of the community."

Opting not to elaborate on the leaning statue, Sookhai said, "I know it is going down and there is a concern for the safety of people. I do not want to say they should break it down. I do not know much about Saint Peter."

Several officials from the Government, including Francis, have visited the area regarding the erosion, he said.

One visitor at the beach suggested that the authorities should use a crane or other heavy equipment to relocate the statue to another area in Gran Chemin.

"It has aesthetic value, but we need to give Saint Peter a space. Maybe it should be placed about 200 yards away from the Christopher Columbus statue. It will be much more venerating if it is onshore and properly secured."


"Sea threatens school, statue at Gran Chemin"

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