Watooka residents reject mechanical drain clearing
Residents of West Watooka, Wismar, Linden are adamant that they will not allow any mechanical clearing of the drains and canals in the community. They say that they are prepared to undertake the job manually.
This position they made clear to Regional Member of Parliament Vanessa Kissoon and Councilor Gerald Whittington, who on Thursday met with them and toured the community to get a first hand look at some of the canals in the area.
The residents claim that these canals have not been cleared for over a year, and are filled with vegetation.
At one of the main canals a putrid smell emanated; dead fish floated amongst the vegetation, on the stagnant surface.
According to the residents, the water in this particular canal was ‘crystal’ clear, up to about two weeks ago. It suddenly started to change color and emit the stench.
“People at the back here don’t have potable water, so we depend on this water to do just about everything. Now look at the condition of it; we can’t use it, so what are we supposed to do,” one resident lamented.
The residents claimed that they cleared the canals manually last year. Most of them who are farmers, said that they suffered tremendous losses recently due to the persistent heavy rainfall, which destroyed the crops on their farms.
One woman, Karen Wallace said her losses run into the millions. Other farmers also reported losses, which they said can never really be recouped.
“At least by clearing the canals we can earn something, instead of having people come in here and going out with the money. We need the money; it cannot compensate us for what we loss, but at least it could give us a brace,” one man claimed.
The canals in the West Watooka area was one of the projects that was financed by the Linden Economic Advancement Programme (LEAP). Their establishment resulted in the opening up of more than a thousand acres of farm land, it was reported. However the problem has always been the timely maintenance of the canals, according to the farmers.
“These canals would normally get dug every year around March, the latest being April, before the rainy season. But this year, everybody hollering how we got to wait on the budget- now we wait and look what happen, the rainy season come, and people suffering.
“People suffer tremendous losses, plus right now we health at risk, because this stagnant water is causing mosquitoes to breed like crazy- they biting you all in the day, exposing we to all kinds of sickness like typhoid and malaria,” a concerned resident vented.
His concern was highlighted by several other residents.
Parliamentarian Kissoon said that the residents should be given the go ahead to start cleaning the canals, as they have already suffered enough hardships.
“These residents should definitely be allowed to clean these canals, because they live here, they know the topography of the area and what needs to be done. Apart from that, they also need the money, because a lot of them are single parents. I am therefore advocating that the residents get the contract to clean the canals- especially numbers three, four and five.
“I think It is only fair that they get the job, because they will be earning much needed income, given the losses some of them would have incurred. As for Canal number six, I understand that the contract for that was already given to Pioneer.
Kissoon said that the area needs to be looked at seriously as there is great potential for growth in the agricultural sector.
“This place could be the food basket of Region Ten, and even further afield, “, Kissoon emphasized.
The MP later contacted Chief Executive Officer of the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority, Lionel Wordsworth, whom she invited to visit the community to put measures in place to fast track the clearing of the canals.
He is expected to travel to the community along with engineer Raphael Gravesande on Monday to look at the situation. They are expected to be accompanied by Regional Officials.(Enid Joaquin)