Opposition Leader accuses Govt. of neglecting farmers
- notes administration’s lack of preparation, communication with affected residents
A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) has expressed concern over the countrywide flooding, especially in Berbice and the damage to property, crops and livestock.
Leader of the Opposition, Brigadier David Granger paid a visit to villages along the Mahaicony River which have been affected by recent floods.
Mr. Granger, accompanied by members of the National Assembly, Ms. Jennifer Wade and Mr. Winston Felix, RDC councillor, Ms. Carol Joseph and others, visited areas from Perth to Strath Campbell on Thursday 9th February.
These communities have been under stagnant water for the past two weeks.
The Opposition Leader called on the PPP/C-dominated agencies which control drainage in the Mahaica-Berbice Region – especially the East Demerara Water Conservancy (EDWC), the Mahaica, Mahaicony, Abary Agricultural Authority (MMA/ADA), National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) and the Region Four Democratic Council (RDC) – to provide relief to all residents in the Region, regardless of their alleged political affiliation.
He also demanded that residents be provided with immediate relief from their plight and that serious rehabilitation of the river dam, canals and kokers be started to save their crops and livestock.
Residents pointed out that the biggest problem came not from rainfall alone but from the administration’s lack of preparation, lack of communication and lack of concern for the plight of farmers and families.
They complained that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic-dominated Regional Democratic Council, National Drainage and Irrigation Authority, Mahaica-Mahaicony-Abary Agricultural Development Authority and Ministry of Agriculture were aware of their plight.
It was further disclosed that whenever the Maduni sluice is opened to release water from the East Demerara Water Conservancy, NDIA channels excess water from the Mahaica River eastwards to the Mahaicony River. The canals, however, do not have the capacity to carry the increased volume of water.
To make matters worse, the canals are narrow and shallow, the kokers are small and certain ‘green’ areas are given low priority for the deployment of equipment, such as excavators, to provide relief. As a result, farmlands and housing areas along the Mahaicony have been frequently flooded over the past 12 years.
In addition, APNU has noted that negligence on the part of Regional Democratic Councils (RDCs), Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) and Municipalities, to properly supervise and maintain drainage structures, are some of the reasons for the flooding in many places.
Region Six Councilor, Mr. Hazrat Husain stated, “Since we are having a yearly continuous rainfall especially in the early part of the year, APNU once again calls on the government to put strategies/measures in place for a long term remediation of the problems rather than a short term fix that sees them giving out relief as seen evident in the past and which continues in the present”.
A statement released by the APNU Region 6 Councillors Hazrat Husain, Kervin Crawford, Deborah Hurst, Jevon Stephen, Reerakraj Poonai and Agnes McDonald noted, “APNU said Government must do all within its power now to seek international assistance to improve our drainage systems and to build and construct drainage structures to help in the flooding situations in the future occurrences especially on the coast”.
The statement added that “APNU is therefore calling on the Government to conduct an urgent assessment and to provide relief urgently to farmers who have lost tremendously due to the flooding since these farmers solely depend on farming to sustain their livelihood.
APNU noted in the past especially in Region Six, relief was not distributed fairly and justly among the farmers especially those on the East Bank of Berbice and warned it will not sit idly by and allow it to continue should the authorities go in this path”.