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Dec 07, 2008 Features / Columnists
The rains are here and given the experience of 2005 when heavy rains created havoc with national life to the extent that there were fears that the sea defence would collapse, people are once more cautious. Some are also expressing fears.
In 2005 when the rains came the drains and outfalls which had been neglected could not take off the water from the land. At the same time the East Demerara Water Conservancy was full to overflowing.
Even the Crown Dam could not keep back the water and in the end, the bulk of the lower East Coast Demerara was under water, in some places by as much as four feet.
Agriculture was hard hit; people were displaced and generally things slowly ground to a halt. The images of people lining sections of the roadways begging for a handout are still fresh in the minds of many. The situation was no different in the city where people who lived on ground floors found that their homes had become inhabitable.
The government rushed to alleviate the situation by seeking to relieve the pressure on the conservancy but even this did not find favour with some people because some riverain locations had to be further inundated.
Abuses flew fast and furious because as could be expected, some people blamed the government for what was certainly an act of God. To the credit of many, they set about helping those in need by preparing meals and in some cases, offering shelter.
When the situation abated, it was found that the very people had clogged the waterways by dumping their garbage and other household waste into the very waterways that were supposed to drain water from the land into the rivers and the Atlantic Ocean.
It was not until the massive cleanup that the harm that people did to the waterways became evident. Old fridges, shells of vehicles, stoves, tyres, builders waste and just about every conceivable article could be found in these waterways. The cost of cleaning up was exorbitant.
The government then began a campaign of educating the people about the dangers of blocking waterways. In some cases household articles dumped into the waterways damaged drainage pumps and made it necessary for the government to buy and borrow pumps from overseas to help drain the land.
But all the blame could not be placed on the people because the municipalities also contributed to the flooding. They did not clear the outfall channels so that even when kokers were opened the water had nowhere to go. Yet people blamed the government.
Within months of that disaster that saw the country not only spending huge sums of money but also losing revenue because exports were affected, people had reverted to their old habit of discarding household waste into the waterways. Again government had to spend huge sums clearing drains.
Threats of prosecution got nowhere because the people paid by the government to monitor the situation did not do their job. Again the blame fell on the government because the critics felt that government had to put people to monitor those entrusted with monitoring the situation.
The rains are here once more and already the government has spent millions of dollars in an effort to avert disaster. Drains have been dug and outfall channels cleared.
There has been constant monitoring of the East Demerara Water Conservancy to ensure that the retaining walls are in proper condition.
Such expenditures are needless because all the people need to do is to help keep the waterways clear. They should also monitor the behaviour of their neighbours who are putting the existence of communities at risk.
The critics are convinced that every task must be undertaken by the government and that whatever money is spent in the process must be spent. But at the same time the very critics criticize every expenditure to the point of suggesting that the money could go into other areas.
Such double-speak not only leads to confusion but also exposes the fact that some people must criticize for the sake of criticism. It says a lot about the ability of the critics to understand the nature of economic management.
So the rains are here once more and despite the periods of heavy downpour, there is no threat of flooding at this time because the government has taken the necessary steps.
It is therefore necessary to examine situations before rushing to blame but then again, there is no better pastime than to blame the government.
They are being paid while we are being played…your pain is their gain!
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