Dec 21, 2008 Features / Columnists
The haste with which people seek to criticize or attack the Government can never really be understood, except that there are people who simply criticize for the sake of criticism.
They look at everything, even the positive measures, and they find fault to the point of describing the Government as being dictatorial.
This week, President Bharrat Jagdeo toured some of the areas affected by the excessively heavy rainfall to assess what could be done to further provide relief.
One of the areas was the outfall at Liliendaal, where he had a look at a pump that is supposed to extract water from the land.
The pump serves a very large area, from south Georgetown to the lower East Coast. These areas were once farming areas, and were developed in such a way as to retain water to support the crops.
As the city expanded, these farmlands were converted into housing areas, but the fact remained that they were designed to retain water for a certain length of time.
When the Liliendaal pump was installed, southern Georgetown was already a fully developed housing area, and the gravity flow that normally drains the land was inadequate, so the pump became a necessity.
In recent times, because of age, the pump experienced numerous breakdowns and could not extract the water efficiently, much to the inconvenience of the residents.
It was this that caused President Jagdeo to opt to have the Government take control of it, because flooding had become excessive. At the same time, the Government recognized that the City Council did not have the necessary funds to ensure the proper functioning of the pump.
No sooner had the Government announced that it was going to ensure the pump be made to operate to the maximum than the mayor decided to voice his objection, calling the move by the Government an act that threatens democracy.
The Council has repeatedly said that it is cash strapped to the point of hardly being able to pay its staff. At the same time, it is required to find large sums of money to buy fuel for this and other pumps that are used to drain the land in times of very heavy rainfall, and when the kokers cannot operate because of the tides.
The Government is aware that it is always being blamed for flooding, even though each year it allocates funds to the various local authorities to ensure that there is adequate drainage in the affected areas, residents do not blame the local authorities, and often their representatives find themselves to the Office of the President to complain.
The City Council cannot say that at any time people from the lower East Coast Demerara have gone to the City Hall to complain about flooding, because they really do not expect City Hall to provide the relevant assistance.
Over time, it was left to the Government to provide assistance to the Council, which seems incapable of managing its affairs. Proper management of its financial resources would ease the dependence on the Government. There have been times when the Government had to release funds so that the Council could pay its staff.
In 2005, the Government had to provide the Council with pumps to alleviate the excessive flooding that threatened the very lives of the people. The Government has always moved to provide some help to the City Council, and the decision to take control of the Liliendaal pump is just one.
Contrary to the views of the mayor, the Government will not be taking over the pump; all it is going to do is ensure that the pump is working at all times, and that flooding does not occur in the areas served by the pump.
However, the mayor is talking about internationalizing the fact that the Government wants to help maintain the pump and to ensure its continued operation. In the interest of the people, the Government is going ahead with its plan to overhaul and operate the Liliendaal pump.
The mayor says that he has not been consulted, but from time to time he has complained to the Ministry of Works and the Ministry of Local Government about the need for help in maintaining the pump.
He himself admits that people hurl missiles into the waterways and damage these pumps. And since this continues to happen, the pump would always break down; and since the City Council says that it does not have money, one cannot see it rushing to spend money on replacement parts every time the pump breaks down.
Sometimes people look gift horses in the mouth, and at this time, when so much rain is expected, the Government is indeed a gift horse for the City Council. It is a pity that there is always this blind rush to see an ulterior motive in everything that the Government does.
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