Kaieteur News – The precise cause or causes of the present floods need to be determined before any international assistance is offered to Guyana. The international community would be doing itself a disservice if it simply goes ahead and provides assistance without, in turn, demanding a commission of inquiry into the floods.
The fact that parts of all the Regions in Guyana have experienced flooding to varying degrees is itself suggestive that there may be a central cause. But is rainfall that cause?
A few days ago in the National Assembly, the Prime Minister suggested that this is Guyana’s second worst disaster. But what is needed is for it to be so established not only in terms of households affected but also in terms of the measureable level of rainfall, which many believe to be responsible for the present disaster.
The hydro metrological office is yet to provide any public information as to actual rainfall in each Region in order to make a case that the present floods resulted from unusually high precipitation.
The Vice President speaks about rainfall coming from the backlands and beyond the savannahs. But has this been established as the main cause of the flooding, which has swept the coastland regions.
And what is responsible for the extreme flooding in Kwakwani? Was it rainfall? Or was it swelling of the creeks and waterways and, if so, what was responsible for this development.
Forests play an important role as water reservoirs. So is the flooding in hinterland areas in any way linked to the destruction of forested areas due to indiscriminate logging and mining?
The flooding in Georgetown was man-made. The city is designed to drain easily but so long as there are delays in the opening and closing of the kokers or so long as the drainage system is compromised, there will be accumulation.
The people of Mahaica and Mahaicony will not be convinced that rainfall alone accounted for their woes. Many in some parts of these areas still insist that the rising water on their lands were occasioned by the release of water from the East Demerara Water Conservancy.
The media was taken on a tour of the spill weir in the Abary. But no tour has been arranged in the East Demerara Water Conservancy. It needs to be asked why?
In the meantime, the oil-rich government of Guyana has gone on a begging mission. The country with one of the highest per capita oil reserves in the world and one, which boasts that it is set to become the powerhouse of the Caribbean, is now begging for pumps and other relief from the international community.
Only a few months ago, Guyana was sending shiploads of supplies to volcano-ravaged St. Vincent and the Grenadines. And the President promised that Guyana would continue to be engaged. He was speaking like a man who was running a country rich in oil wealth.
A few weeks ago, he was begging for assistance to get water off the land and to rebuild the agriculture sector.
But before any assistance is offered, a proper assessment has to be made. This assessment should only be about the damage but also about the causes because not many persons are convinced by the explanation of unusually high levels of rainfall.
As such, there should be an insistence that any assistance be dependent on an assessment of both the causes and the damages resulting from the disaster.
The PPP/C has always been coy about having such inquiries. They govern under the morbid fear that such inquiries will expose their shortcomings. But such inquiries are necessary to ensure that the real causes and the genuine concerns are addressed.
There was no inquiry into the Great Flood of 2005 which many felt was caused by the over-topping of the conservancy, compounded by shoddy maintenance work for which almost a billion dollars had been expended.
The international community should refuse to offer any assistance at this time until and unless there is a full inquiry as to the cause of the present disaster and the response of the government.
Guyana, in any event, should not be soliciting alms. We are an oil rich country. The Government says that we are the fastest growing economy in the world. And still we are begging for pumps?
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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