…Wakenaam / Leguan NDC chairmen ‘in the dark’
By Fareeza Haniff and Mondale Smith
A total of $55 million has been allocated by the Ministry of Agriculture for the construction of two new drainage structures in Leguan and Wakenaam. But both chairmen of the Neighbourhood Democratic Councils are oblivious as to who the contractors are.
They both refer all queries to Lionel Wordsworth, the acting Chief Executive Officer of the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority.
A document issued to media operatives on June 3 states that $35 million was awarded to contractors for the construction of a sluice in Waterloo, Leguan. Thus far no work has commenced and the Region Two Chairman, Ali Baksh, has little knowledge of the projects.
During a visit to the community yesterday, Chairman of the Leguan NDC, Durga Persaud, said that a technical team, along with Agriculture Minister, Robert Persaud, visited the island two months ago and after consultation with farmers and residents, decided to construct a bigger sluice. The current one measures four feet and is not up to standard to meet the needs of the farming community.
According to Durga Persaud, as a result of a request from farmers, the authorities are waiting on the end of the rainy season, and on the completion of the current crop, before the commencement of construction. He foresees this as being within the next two months.
He said, “The current sluice cannot take the amount of water as there is also heavy siltation in the northern part of the island. This has resulted in the drainage being poor.”
As result of the silt build up, more than 200 acres of farm lands have been abandoned according to one councilor present.
Over at Wakenaam, a $20M contract has been awarded for the construction of another sluice, at Amersfort.
This publication was able to confirm that work is yet to commence but the Chairman of the NDC, Zakir Khan, says that he is aware that works are scheduled to be done on the island.
During an interview yesterday, Khan said, “According to Lionel Wordsworth, the contract has been awarded but I don’t know who it was awarded to. He (Wordsworth) did say that works will commence by August.”
The chairman said, too, that the community; especially the farmers, is in dire need of, and would welcome the new sluice, since the old one collapsed more than four years ago.
“If you look at the sluice, you would not realise that it has collapsed, there is still a door on it and that tends to ease the amount of water that goes in the land a little. But when the water comes off the land, a huge amount comes back and that should not be the case,” Khan said.
He explained that the current structure does not provide for the kind of drainage that it is supposed to. “A new koker would be the best thing to provide adequate drainage to farmers who have close to 200 acres of land.”
Lionel Wordsworth said, yesterday, that the Leguan contract was awarded on July 15, to Jainol Hoosain Civil Engineering Contracting Service.
He however noted that this contract is still to be signed and a commencement date will be given in accordance with the prescribed clause “signature and commencement order” of the contract document and construction is expected to take some eight months.
The contract at Amersfort, Wakenaam was awarded to S. Khan General Construction Service and Wordsworth said this too is yet to be signed. Commencement will be announced at a later date in accordance with the prescribed clause “signature and commencement order” of the contract document.
He puts the construction duration period to six months.
In both cases the NDC chairmen said that they are knowledgeable of official visits by the authorities to their islands but are not sure who the contractors are. Residents on both islands said they are hoping that skullduggery will not occur.
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