Jun 01, 2021 News
– Agri. Ministry steps in to assist with drainage as flooding continues
– Bloomfield, Eversham, other areas visited
As residents from East Berbice-Corentyne continue to grapple with severe flooding brought on by persistent rainfall and overtopping of the Canje Creek, calls are being made for the regional representatives, more so, the various Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) to step up and do their job.
This common complaint was raised with Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha, during day two of his regional flood assessment exercise in Region Six. This is according to a release issued by the Ministry of Agriculture.
Nalini Boodhoo, a resident of No. 59 Village, said that the NDC has failed the people. “The Chairman doesn’t do anything. Look at the condition of the dam here. Look at this drain. If we bin get better drainage or them used to clean the drains, we would never get this kinda flooding. The man doesn’t even come to meet with the people,” Ms. Boodhoo said.
Another resident, Bergett McGregor, from No. 53 Village, also said that the NDC Chairman for her area has also failed to carry out the works needed to maintain the neighbourhood.
“Minister, I’ve been waiting to meet with you. This situation is very hard on us and we need help. We appreciate what the Ministry is doing because I know pumps are being brought to the Region, but if the NDC was doing their job, we would be in a better state. The NDC is not doing anything for us. Look at the drains. They don’t even clean these drains. We are paying our rates and taxes and we are not getting any help. When you go to the office, it is like you go there to waste time, because they do not put any effort into coming and seeing what the people are going through,” Ms. McGregor said.
Residents also raised issues with the operation of certain structures in their communities. While efforts were being made to drain severely affected areas in Black Bush Polder, residents from other villages along the Coast have been accused of tampering with one of the structures in an attempt to allow the flow of water through their community.
Farmers were also of the opinion that relevant officials failed to engage both parties in a timely manner, which resulted in further conflict.
Minister Mustapha told residents, after conducting a comprehensive regional assessment; several immediate interventions will be implemented within the next 24 hours.
“This is day two of our regional flood assessment exercise. What I’ve noticed is that several areas are still flooded. We were able to, like yesterday; make some timely interventions in an effort to bring some amount of relief to residents. Those interventions would be implemented within the next 24 hours. In some of the NDCs, I’m very dissatisfied.
Based on reports we received from many residents, these bodies have not been performing, as they should, especially the Nos. 52 – 74 NDC. Many issues were brought to my attention that we will be working to resolve at the level of the RDC. I’ve also asked the NDIA to look at issues relating to drainage that are affecting residents in those areas,” Minister Mustapha said.
As it relates to the operation of structures in the region, Minister Mustapha told residents that a system has to be in place to ensure water from severely affected areas does not drain into areas that are less affected. He also cautioned residents against tampering with drainage and irrigation structures.
“When I met with residents from Black Bush Polder, I told them that we would work out a system to ensure we drain those areas as fast as possible. The water has to drain from the backlands so we have to come to a compromise. When we have heavy rainfall, the residents from Black Bush insist that we close that particular sluice because they believe it is bringing excess water into the system. We would not put a system in place to bring more flooding. I also want to make it clear – the ministry has not and will not authorise the tampering of any sluice. No one should interfere with these structures. If we encounter persons tampering with any of the structures they will be arrested,” Minister Mustapha said.
The Minister also told residents that hampers with food items and cleaning supplies would be made available through the Civil Defence Commission. Residents expressed that, in the past, only a selected few would benefit from the relief. Minister Mustapha asked that villagers identify representatives to work along with the team carrying out the distribution to ensure everyone benefits.
In addition, officers from the Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA), on Sunday distributed feed to affected farmers in some parts of the Region.
During his visit to Black Bush Polder on Saturday, President Irfaan Ali, said that immediate assistance was needed to rescue animals that have been stranded in the Cookrite Savannah.
Farmers who usually graze their animals there had said that there were no other alternative areas in the Region for them to house their animals. They appealed to the Head of State to have some feed made available to feed their animals.
GLDA officers also treated a number of animals that would have suffered injuries while attempting to seek higher ground.
After the Minister would have concluded the exercise, NDIA officials in the region provided an update on the interventions made thus far.
Residents from the Nos. 52 – 54 area had requested additional infrastructure, in the form of additional tubing, be made available to assist with draining the area. The NDIA was able to make those infrastructures available. An excavator was also sent to the area to assist with clearing the drains. A mobile pump was installed at Anchor Ville and two additional pumps have been installed at Whim and Letter Kenny. Two tractor pumps have been deployed to assist with drainage in Eversham and a mini-excavator has been sent to clear blocked internal drains in Bangladesh.
NAREI and GLDA have also commenced their assessment to determine the losses faced by cash crops and livestock farmers in the region. GRDB officers have also commenced preliminary assessments in the region.
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