Jul 24, 2016 News
… Squatters, Businesses on Govt reserves a major problem
The Dutch Risk Reduction Team in its completed report on the drainage system in Guyana has concluded that the enforcement of the Drainage and Irrigation Act is not being enforced. The report said that the team
arrived at this conclusion based on interviews and field observations conducted in Georgetown.
The report highlighted the fact that the banks of drainage canals are often occupied by squatters and by private companies. Within the report are excerpts from the interviews the team conducted.
One of the interviewees said that there are cases of poor people squatting along drainage canals for kilometres. According to the individual, politicians tend to support the position of squatters so as to secure votes for elections.
It was mentioned in another excerpt that there is interference by politicians to encourage improper use of reserved land. The individual said, “The government itself built on the embankment. We said stop building and then we received a phone call by a politician: please let us proceed. Politicians have friends and can go against the rules”.
The DRR Team was also informed that there is a problem whereby wealthy Guyanese would construct huge structures on government reserve land. An interviewee commented that this practise had exploded over the last 15 years; moreover persons have now been granted legal title to the lands which they began occupying illegally.
Last May, Minister within the Ministry of Communities Valerie Sharpe-Patterson declared the government’s position on squatting. She told the Government Information Agency that the government would not be regularising areas that are not conducive for the establishment of communities. She said that land would have to be made available and re-allocated to squatters.
At that point in time the Ministry had allocated 252 house lots to persons who were squatting under regularisation. These allocations were made in communities within Regions Three, Four and Six.
An additional excerpt in the report said that a company on the Demerara embankment blocked an outfall channel and has refused to do anything to allow access to the channel. It was pointed out, too, that people continue to throw their solid waste and building waste into the drainage canals.
According to the DRR team, the information which they recorded from these interviews shows that the space for water that is needed for good drainage is not respected by a large majority of the involved people.
The report said that politicians, government, private companies, rich and poor people all contribute to the occupation of reserves and to the blockage of drainage canals. It added that the authorities mandated to look at water management in Guyana are not succeeding in convincing the Guyanese people that space is needed for water in order to reduce flooding.
The interviews were conducted with managers and senior staff from a number of Government entities. These included the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Ministry of Agriculture, Georgetown Mayor and City Council, Mahaica-Mahaicony-Abary/Agriculture Development Authority, National Drainage and Irrigation Authority, Civil Defence Commission, Guyana Water Incorporated, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Communities and GuySuCo.
The interviews focused on items such as water legislation, enforcement of legislation, plans and policies related to water, spatial planning and space for water, organisation and maintenance issues, resiliency of the population against flooding and financing instruments.
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