Latest update March 31st, 2023 12:59 AM
Dec 20, 2008 News
– pumps were maintained well for 34 years – Deputy Mayor
The decision by President Bharrat Jagdeo to have Central Government take over the operations of the Liliendaal and Kitty pumps, because of negligence on the part of the Mayor and City Council (M&CC), was described as an assault on Democracy by City Mayor Hamilton Green yesterday.
The mayor was at the time hosting a press conference at City Hall, where he emphasised that the move was an exercise in imperialist domination.
At the forum, Mayor Green highlighted the fact that Government allotted a total of $1.7B towards flood relief and drainage preparation countrywide, but failed to spend “one cent” in Georgetown.
He said that at least $26M of the flood relief fund would have been sufficient to purchase new pumps for Kitty, in order to address the impact of the current rainfalls. That was the cost of a new pump which was placed on order, but funding for which was subsequently cancelled.
Mirroring the mayor’s sentiments, Deputy Mayor Robert Williams expressed disappointment that the municipality was being labelled as neglectful with regards to the maintenance of the Liliendaal and Kitty pumps.
“In all my public life, I have never been so upset, worried and concerned as I am at this point…Imagine, the Liliendaal pump was installed since 1974; this City Council was responsible for its maintenance and its operation up to 2008, which is over 30-something years after…The pumps are still operational…”
It was for this reason, Williams said, that it was with dismay that he read in the newspaper that Government had intended to take over the site because of neglect.
“What neglect you can accuse an institution of after 34 years of maintenance of a piece of equipment, when several other pieces of equipment, five, four and three years old, have been destroyed?”
According to the deputy mayor, his concern rests solely on the neglect accusation, adding that there is no merit in saying that there has been neglect, since it was at the expense of the taxpayers that the pumps were being maintained and kept in operation.
He added that there was an agreement that the Government would contribute towards the acquisition of new pumps.
“In the very report, it is stated that it will cost close to $200 million. Can you image a City Council budget of $1.7 billion and $200M comes out to buy two pumps? One would expect some international funding from the IDB or EU, as is done in other areas.”
The deputy mayor added that citizens should not be too upset with the municipality’s efforts in the capital city, but instead, they should be rational.
He explained that, normally, during the month of December, Georgetown receives 262 millimetres (mm) of water. For the first 18 days of this month, there has already been 436 mm of rain water. According to the Meteorological Office, another 100 mm of rainfall is expected within the next few days, which would make the volume of rainwater a whopping 536 mm, the deputy mayor added.
“The fact that you can walk the roads and streets of Georgetown, you should say congratulations to the municipality for keeping the situation as far as practicable under control with the volume of water that has fallen over the last 17 days.”
“This is the message we want to get out…And there seems to be lack of ownership. This thing is not about you or me and who neglect. This thing is about excess rainfall in the country. Let us all come together and find a way of dealing with the situation.”
Williams pointed out that the city should not be judged by the amount of rainfall, but rather by its ability to discharge water through a functioning system.
“I am very upset that, after 34 years, the President was led to believe that we have neglected the Liliendaal pump, which is functioning in an area where the sea water must rust the pipe enclosure of the pump.”
But, according to Minister of Public Works, Robeson Benn, in an invited comment yesterday, the municipality has a tax base which should have been prudent enough to fulfil its mandate to taxpayers.
The minister pointed out that the Government would not have needed to intervene had the municipality been able to manage its resources and finances.
He, however, declined to comment further on the matter, adding that the President has already spoken in this regard.
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