RESIDENTS of Cashew Gardens in Carlsen Field go to sleep at nights wondering if they will awaken the next morning with their houses crashed on top of them.
This is because the land on which approximately 20 houses are built, appears to be sinking.
According to residents, an incomplete drain on the Edinburgh Road which runs at the back of the houses on Soursop Avenue, is believed the cause of the problem, as for years, water has been seeping into the porous earth causing it to become unstable.
The community sprang up in 2005 – about the same time the then National Housing Authority (NHA) was repurposed into the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) which was responsible for completing the drain.
When Newsday visited the community last week, cracks were clearly visible on the walls and concrete skirting of houses on Soursop Avenue.
As some houses, the cracks which started at the base have climbed up along walls and some houses have begun to separate from the concrete walkway built around them. One resident who works in the protective services said, "When we moved in here about sixteen years ago, the HDC told us not to do any construction in the ground for five years because the land has to settle. Besides the cracks on my house, my neighbour decided to erect a wall behind the house. He had to dig six feet to start the foundation because of the water coming up from underground."
The resident said that in some of the houses, whenever the rainy season comes, water seeps up from the foundation as the surrounding land becomes water-logged.
"Before we moved into the houses we brought the drain to their (the HDC) attention and they said they would come and finish it after.
"We have had many consultations with the HDC since then, telling them that the erosion from the incomplete drain is causing the land to move. They still haven't done anything. Every year the rain falls and it takes away a piece of the land behind the houses," the resident said.
He claimed that the owner of the first house to the end of the road had at least ten feet of land to spare behind his house when he first came to live in Cashew Gardens. "Every year, the water keeps taking away a piece of the land, bit by but. Now it has reached right up to the man's wall which can fall at anytime," the resident said adding that even utility poles on the road are leaning because of the unstable land.
"You can go to sleep in the night with a dry floor and when the rain falls in the night, you can get up in the morning to your floor covered in water from the seepage," he said.
Another home-owner who gave her name only as Miss Carol, who said she had been living in the community since the start in 2005, said she first started seeing cracks on the walls of her house five years ago.
"A newer development on the other side (of Edinburgh Road) is also affecting our houses as the drainage there is clogged, so apart from water from the incomplete drain at the back of the avenue, is water from across the road from the newer development," she said,
"I don't know what to do because water is now coming inside the house from underground. The house is starting to feel like it's sinking. My backyard is always waterlogged even though there is no rain. I don't know what to do, we need to get this fixed."
The issue of sinking land and cracking walls and foundations is not the only ones the residents have to deal with.
"Our roads are probably among the worst in the country. Right on Tasker Avenue as you enter, you can see for yourself the dilapidated condition of the roads. There is flooding now because of the poor drainage and now is rainy season. The potholes are huge. And don't talk about Edinburgh Road, oh my God," a resident said.
HDC WILL HELP
Residents are also asking for a community centre and a recreation ground. Roads in need of repair are Balata Drive, Guajara Drive, Tamarindo Drive, Cycad Avenue and of course, Edinburgh Road.
Resident affected by the sinking land, showed Newsday correspondence sent to residents by the HDC in June 2020.
"An investigation into your enquiry reveals that the area of erosion at the Cashew Gardens, Carlsen Field community, which was affecting the perimeter wall, was subsequently supported by the extension of the drainage wall to mitigate against further erosion.
"Since these measures were put in place, there was one minor erosion earlier this year in the other areas of drainage works that are in further proximity to the occupied houses.
"Notwithstanding the above, and given the current rainy season, the contractor will be shoring (a method of comprising a combination of steel columns and steel sheeting driven into the ground to provide retaining support) to the additional affected areas will be done in collaboration with benching (cutting the sides of the drain in a slightly stepped format) to further reduce the possibility of erosion and slippage.
"These activities are anticipated to commence during the course of the week." That was over a year ago with nothing being done.
HDC CAN'T HELP
The residents claim that the HDC has changed its tune and is now passing liability and responsibility to the Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo Regional Corporation.
The residents showed Newsday another HDC correspondence.
"The earthen drain which runs parallel to the Edinburgh Road is eroding. The earthen drain does not service the Cashew Gardens Development. Instead it collects run-off from neighbouring private developments. The earthen drain does not lie within the HDC’s boundary.
"Based on the above, it can be concluded that the earthen drain falls under the purview of the respective regional corporation. As such they should be engaged to conduct remedial works.
"While the HDC’s residents may be adversely affected with continued erosion, the HDC does not have the authority to conduct works on this drain. However, the relevant HDC Department will liaise with the corporation on behalf of the residents." However, nothing has been done and residents have been left to fend for themselves, as has been the case for years.