Jun 15, 2021 News
By Malisa Playter-Harry
Kaieteur News – With floodwaters remaining at a high level in several parts of the country, livestock, crops and persons living in residential areas are still in dire need of support. As recent as a few days ago, President, Irfaan Ali, who has visited affected areas to gain a firsthand perspective of the situation, announced that it is now a Level Three disaster based on the advice of the Civil Defence Commission (CDC). This latest classification could see the Administration seeking international help.
Areas in Regions Five and Six have been among the hardest hit resulting in hundreds of livestock being trapped in the flooded areas.
A ministerial visit to the Abary Conservancy and Mahaicony in Region Five on Saturday, revealed the extent of the damage caused by the floodwaters there. During that visit, Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha, and a team of officials from his Ministry, along with regional officials, were able to inspect and assess the integrity of the Abary Conservancy. The visit was also intended to ascertain whether several instructions that were given during a previous visit were implemented.
The Minister had given instructions to officers from the various agricultural agencies, including the Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA), to visit all flood-affected farmers in the Abary Creek area, distribute feed and treat animals. However, some farmers revealed that the officers are yet to visit them, a development that Minister Mustapha wants investigated.
“I have instructed the deputy CEO of GLDA to launch an investigation and I am hoping to get a report…and I will ask that disciplinary action be taken against those officers who have not implemented the instructions that were given. Even the President instructed right across the country that we look at the animals, and look at the livestock because if our livestock industry suffers losses, the entire country will be suffering losses,” the Minister said.
He also expressed concern over the fact that “there are a number of animals in the water (in the conservancy) and that in itself will pose a challenge for us because those are wild animals and it is challenging to get them to go to dry land.” He added that a decision has been made to have a pontoon available for 24 hours to bring out the animals with the assistance of the GLDA officers. A few areas have been identified to relocate the animals.
According to the Minister, across the country, including at areas like Kookrit Savannah, Mahaicony/Mahaica/Abary, among others, where cattle roam and graze, there is a huge challenge to get the cattle to higher ground. He noted however, that efforts are being made to do so despite the challenges.
Conservancy and spill weir
At the Daageraad spill weir, a 5,000 ft. long concrete structure in the Abary Conservancy has reinforced the integrity of the structure, according to Minister Mustapha. With the water level presently at 64.2 GD (Georgetown Datum), excess water is being spilled into the Berbice River. Currently, the water is 14 inches above the level of the spill weir but the minister noted that he was pleased, based on his assessment of the structure.
“I am very satisfied that the integrity of the dam is there. There are no breaches on the dam and all the excess water is being spilled into the Berbice River. The spill weir is very clean, there is no vegetation blocking the spill weir, so I am happy to note that there is no water from the conservancy that is leaking into the farming areas, housing area and cultivation area. The water is coming from the high-land that passes through and drains into the Atlantic Ocean,” he said.
The Minister, while at the Abary Conservancy, noted that the situation is likely to remain the same for a number of days, due to the high volume of water in the backdams that have been passing through the housing area, the creeks, etc. In addition to keeping the spill weir clear, the mouth of the Abary Creek has been cleaned and shortly, “as soon as we finish Mahaicony, we will bring back the excavator with the pontoon to clear the Abary Creek inland, but since we have cleared the mouth, the water is flowing at a rapid speed. If the weather holds, in another week’s time, we can have the level of the conservancy return to normalcy,” the Minister assured.
Even as he took note of several complaints that the mouth of the Creek was not cleared for the past five years, the Minister made it clear that this state of affairs was reversed during the past nine months. “We have ensured that these things are cleared. The Manager for MMA and the board members normally visit here on a regular basis, and I have been encouraging them to visit this spill weir. I am one of the first ministers to visit here to see the level of the water and that is why I am taking a hands on approach,” Minister said.
The Abary Conservancy stretches 365 square miles and presently, all residential and cultivation lands in that location are flooded and are at the same level with the Berbice River.
The people residing in the Wash Clothes, Mahaicony area have be
en living with floodwaters for the past two weeks. Many residents, both old and young, have been using boats to leave their yards. The water they said has become stagnant and has a stench.
Worried about their health, the residents pleaded with the Minister for measures to be put in place to allow the flow of water. Those who have lost livestock and crops also asked for assistance during the Minister’s visit. As the Minister traversed a street that was covered with inches of water with his team, he listened to the concerns of residents. Aunty Kunti, a resident, said that she has been under water for the past three weeks and although she has been “bailing water” from her house, there has been no significant improvement in the water level.
Another resident, 80-year-old Moonsanker, said he has over 400 rods of coconut trees, plantain trees, tomato and eggplants, all of which have been lost due to the flooding situation.
“Me ‘old man’ tell me since me was a lil boy that this flood go come and if god self-come, god can’t save this,” Moonsankar said.
A structure that was put in place to block water from overflowing into the area is now proving to be a problem. As such, the Minister has instructed that, with the guidance of residents, it should be removed so that the water will flow rather than remain stagnant.
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