Proper drainage and irrigation methods remain crucial to the support system needed for the success
of the agriculture sector. But beyond this, these systems are critical to mitigating the effects of flooding, an issue that Guyana is still grappling to properly address.
The National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) functions as Guyana’s apex organization dealing with all public matters pertaining to management, improvement, extension and provision of drainage, irrigation and flood control infrastructure and services in declared areas of the country.
Established in 2006, the Authority has developed an institutional structure in terms of water resources management strategy and water use planning for the primary purpose of locating, evaluating, conserving and distributing water resources of the country for agricultural purposes.
In meeting its mandate, the NDIA has focused on improving and upgrading drainage and irrigation services countywide, thereby enhancing the competitiveness of the various sectors and improving productivity.
Through the work of the NDIA, the Ministry of Agriculture is ensuring that agricultural land is better protected against adverse weather-related events.
Over the years, the NDIA has been building its capacity, resulting in a significant number of pieces of equipment being acquired, inclusive of mobile and fixed pumps, long reach excavators, bulldozers and other machinery.
The NDIA has adopted a policy of constructing and rehabilitating sluices that are found to be functional through suitable foreshore conditions along the coast and riverine areas, aimed at upgrading and expanding the drainage system.
These works allow for expanded acreage of agricultural activities and to better cope with extreme rainfall events associated with climate change. All improved and rehabilitated sluices are now serving areas to withstand in excess of 2.5″ of rainfall in 24 hours as compared to 1.5″ in 24 hours before.
According to its website, the NDIA’s implementation of an aggressive plan for upgrading and rehabilitation of drainage and irrigation infrastructure to ensure optimum capacity has continued. Rehabilitation of drainage structures has been undertaken in Regions Two to 10.
The NDIA, through its Community Drainage and Irrigation Project (CDIP) has also been supporting vulnerable residential areas by clearing critical drains and canals.
About 900 miles of canals and drains are cleared by CDIP workers monthly. In addition, over the last five years, over 900 miles of drains and canals were maintained yearly in Regions 2, 3,4,5,6 and 10 by the NDIA.
The Water Users Association has also assisted with the maintenance of the secondary drainage and irrigation systems in key farming areas.
ROLE OF THE MANUFACTURING SECTOR
In order to equip itself with the machinery required to get some of the tough jobs needed in drainage and irrigation, NDIA has forged a life-long bond with members of the manufacturing sector. The relationship between the two is a crucial one.
One of the companies which has been supplying NDIA with the needed equipment for drainage and irrigation, is the Guyana National Industrial Company Inc. (GNIC).
Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Clinton Williams explained to Kaieteur News in a recent interview that among the structures that are crucial to drainage and irrigation, and are needed by NDIA, are pontoons. For those who may not be aware, a pontoon can be a large flat-bottomed barge or be lighter equipped with cranes and tackle for careening ships and doing salvage work. Williams explained that pontoons in Guyana are designed mostly for desilting purposes.
“The pontoon can be built in such a way that it allows for an excavator which would do the desilting and then take the debris and place it into the holding tank attached to the pontoon,” Williams added.
The CEO said that this is just one of the many pieces of equipment that the GNIC has been contributing to the irrigation and drainage sector for many years now.
Furthermore, Williams in the same breath noted that the company built last year, four large pontoons in record time, within cost and specification. These, he said, are currently in use by NDIA for the East Demerara Water Conservancy Drainage System. This job, he asserted, was in keeping with its traditional intervention into the sector.
The GNIC CEO revealed that the entity has put in a competitive bid for one pontoon equipped with a cutter-suction dredge installed, in addition to two super long reach excavators. It is intended to dredge the various rivers on the coast, all with an aim to improving drainage and irrigation in Guyana.
Williams reminded that the company was also responsible for building the STEVE-N Dredge which is still currently in use following decades of operation. He noted that there is also periodic maintenance and rehab works that are done by GNIC for the said dredge.
Speaking of other drainage and irrigation works, Williams reminded that GNIC constructed the eight-gate sluice for the Hope Canal, along with accompanying guides for the Atlantic end of the Canal. He noted that the completely stainless steel sluice gates were constructed in the company’s shipyard located on Lombard Street, within the prescribed two-month contract deadline.
According to CEO Williams, the delicate construction was completed under the close supervision of Gilbert B.M. Corlette, a highly certified and very experienced welding/fabrication Quality Assurance Engineer.
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