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Ministry looks at landslide sensors

Published: 
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
A motorist manoeuvres past the section of the North Coast Road affected by a landslide on Tuesday.

Early warning sensors which can detect landslides along the North Coast Road before they occur is just one of the proposals being considered by the Ministry of Works.

Former director of the Highways Division in the Works Ministry, Roger Ganesh, said in 2006, he, along with several technocrats from UWI’s civil engineering department had put together a file on short and long-term solutions to address the issue of landslides along the North Coast Road.

“At that time we were discussing setting up sensors on the hill which would give data on soil and moisture conditions to give an advance warning when a landslide was about to take place so as to take preventative measures to minimise the inconvenience to the public,” Ganesh, who is now the chief operations officer at Coosals, said. He said none of the recommendations was ever implemented.

“Some of the problems arise from the illegal occupation of land higher of the hills and slash and burn agriculture and this has caused water to drain into areas it is not supposed to drain and this results in land, mud and rock slides.

“The long-term measure is developing technology similar to that used in Europe where very high-quality mesh wire is used to anchor rocks into the soil. But we have the expertise and knowledge here where we can develop something indigenous to this country because basically engineering is the same all over the world. We just need to make it more financially viable to us,” Ganesh said.

Earlier this week, a landslide cut off traffic along the North Coast Road, near the Maracas Lookout.

Lyndon Lara, the councillor for Maracas/Santa Cruz/La Fillette said the ministry was exploring several options including benching—identifying trouble spots to deal with the areas in a methodical way.

Describing the area as a “very difficult piece of terrain” Lara said: “I know the Ministry of Works engineers would have looked at possibly benching so that the problem would not continue over time.

“But it’s not so says the Ministry of Works has been operating in isolation to what the council would be doing...so there is collaboration.”

Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan said his ministry has been working with the Agriculture Ministry to clear the road and to cut down trees which pose a danger.

“We are also engaging in some geotechnical studies to see what can be done. The use of sensors is also something that is being considered,” Sinanan said.