Jun 08, 2021 News
“I am not here for fun and games. I am not here for laughter. I am not here as a joke. I am here because the concerns of the people of this country affect me. Regardless of which community you are from or regardless of any support you have for any other political party. And I want to say this; the only way we can take things forward in this country is if we exercise some amount of dignity for the situation we are faced with. This is not a laughing situation our country is facing, that is the first thing we have to learn — exercising that dignity.”
Kaieteur News – President, Irfaan Ali, has promised residents of Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) to put all systems in place to ensure that they not only return to some level of normalcy but become better prepared to deal with flooding, which has affected several parts of the country.
In total, the Head of State visited nine riverine communities along the Pomeroon River – Karawab, St. Monica’s Mission, Kabakaburi, Abrams Creek, Siriki, Jacklow, Martin Dale, Marlborough and Hackney— to assess the impact of rising flood waters that have been caused by heavy and intense rainfall over the last two weeks.
“We are going to do everything to secure back your livelihood. We are going to do everything to get you back to the farmland; we are going to do everything to help back the household,” a Department of Public Information release quoted the President as saying.
ALL HANDS ON DECK
Along with listening to the residents and having a first-hand assessment of the area, the President, according to the release, said that his visit was also to ensure that everything that can be done by the different arms of his Government is being done.
He stressed that this is not the time for the Regional Health Officials or the Agriculture Department and other Government agencies to be sitting in an office, but a time when they should be out and on the ground providing 24/7 assessment and support for the flood-affected communities.
“I want to ensure that the different arms of Government are functioning and reaching you,” he said. The Head of State was accompanied by Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha; Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Nigel Dharamlall; Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force, Brigadier Godfrey Bess; Director-General of the Civil Defence Commission (CDC), Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig; Head of the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority, Mr. Lionel Wordsworth, and representatives from the region, including the regional chairman.
President Ali explained that the CDC and the Ministry of Agriculture are going to do a full assessment after the water recedes. However, as it stands, the President emphasised that the Government’s priority is to ensure that affected communities are provided with food, medical supplies, and adequate shelter—since there is more rainfall forecasted for the coming weeks.
“If there is any need in terms of shelter, you have to talk to the CDC now so we can make those arrangements, and we have to ensure that you have access to primary healthcare services that is necessary under flooded conditions.”
The President also noted that while those are the immediate needs, the Government would also have to assess damage caused to farms as well.
“I am here because we care. We know the hurt you are going through, and we have to work together to bring help to you and the community.”
The President, who has witnessed the level of damage and difficulties the flooding situation has caused in other parts of Guyana, called on Guyanese to come together and work for a common purpose and understand the grave implications of the flood waters.
“I am not here for fun and games. I am not here for laughter. I am not here as a joke. I am here because the concerns of the people of this country affect me. Regardless of which community you are from or regardless of any support you have for any other political party. And I want to say this; the only way we can take things forward in this country is if we exercise some amount of dignity for the situation we are faced with. This is not a laughing situation our country is facing, that is the first thing we have to learn—exercising that dignity.”
To enhance the drainage and irrigation, it was also announced that the area will benefit from its own pontoon and excavators.
Minister Mustapha said that the machines will stay in the region.
“The funds have been approved, the President has agreed, and we will purchase a pontoon with two excavators for the Pomeroon itself that will remain in the Pomeroon.” He reiterated the President’s point that every single farmer will benefit from the Government’s assessment, adding, “We recognise the importance of the Pomeroon for the agriculture development of our country.”
The Minister also explained that contracts are expected to be awarded soon for drainage throughout some of the communities—and those projects will begin when the floodwaters recede. Community members will also be employed as a means of returning money to their pockets. “We will continue to monitor the situation, and all the extension officers will be coming back here. I, myself, will be coming back here to work with the community so we can get our farmers to go back to the land. We know that is your livelihood, and you depend on it, and we will continue to ensure that we give you the necessary support,” the Minister said.
FULL REGIONAL AND GOVERNMENT SUPPORT
Also giving an update was Minister Dharamlall, who told residents that they can expect full support from his ministry and the region as well. He noted that the ministry has been working along with the communities in the Pomeroon by sending health and food hampers as well as water tanks to store clean water.
“I know it is going to be a difficult next few weeks, and we hope that whatever you are doing, you are doing as a community. Please help each other during these critical times,” the Minister added.
Minister Dharamlall also announced that the Government buildings in the communities would be opened if persons need shelter and that the Government will provide all the necessary resources. “All we want for you right now is for you to be comfortable, and we will see you through this period.”
The CDC Director-General, Lieutenant Colonel Craig, also spoke to the communities. He explained to them the role of the CDC and the works they have accomplished so far in assisting flood-affected communities in the region and across the country.
Meanwhile, President Ali also implored the residents of each community to take their COVID-19 vaccines. He directed the regional officials to return on Tuesday to carry out a vaccination drive. President Ali had previously visited communities in Regions Three, Five, Six, Seven and 10. During all of his visits, the President assured flood-affected residents that his Government’s support would be continuous and that the current focus is ensuring that they are safe, secure and out of danger.
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