Agri. Minister assesses spill weir in Abary Conservancy

confirms no blockage in structure, no breaches in dam
24-hr pontoon service in place to assist with relocating flood-affected livestock

After residents from flood-affected communities in Abary, West Berbice questioned the state of the spill weir in the Abary conservancy, Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha on Saturday conducted an assessment of the structure to ensure it was functioning effectively.

Minister Mustapha while engaging flood-affected residents from Abary, Region 5

Prior to his visit, farmers voiced concerns that there had been breaches in the conservancy dam and that vegetation was obstructing the free flow of water into the spill-weir, which drains excess water from the Abary conservancy into the Berbice River.

Minister Mustapha and other officials assessing the six door sluile in the Abary area

However, Minister Mustapha was able to travel to the area to conduct an assessment of the structure and confirmed that there was no vegetation impeding the flow of water and that there were no breaches in the dam.

“The conservancy is 14 inches above the normal level here and it’s clear that the excess water is spilling into the Berbice River. I know farmers would’ve expressed concerns about the spill weir so it was important for me to come here and get a first-hand look at the state of the structure. There is no vegetation impeding the flow of water from the conservancy into the Berbice River and the structure is functioning effectively. Concerns were also raised about the dam and after conducting this assessment I can confirm that there are no breaches in the dam either. I know these are very troubling times as we continue to battle with flooding across the country but residents can rest assured that government is sparing no effort to ensure things return to some amount of normalcy soon. We will continue to monitor these structures to ensure they continue to function effectively,” Minister Mustapha said.

A section of the dam along the Abary conservancy

The subject minister also debunked claims that water from the conservancy was being released into the housing area or farming community. He noted that as efforts are being made to drain residential and farming areas in the frontlands, water from the backlands has been draining through the residential areas, which has ultimately contributed to continued flooding.  

Minister Mustapha also met with residents from Abary Creek who expressed concerns about the rising waters, which continue to threaten their livelihoods.

Minister Zulfikar Mustapha during an assessment visit to the spill weir at the Abary conservancy.

Residents also expressed their dissatisfaction with the services offered by the Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA) in terms of providing feed and other veterinary services to animals that have been affected by the flood.

One resident said that some of the interventions put in place following an initial visit by the Minister to the affected community were not implemented.

However, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the GLDA, Dr. Dwight Waldron said that services were being provided to the farmers but several technical mishaps resulted in some farmers not receiving assistance in the initial phase. He said that systems have since been put in place to ensure all of the affected farmers receive the services and assistance being given by the Authority. Minister Mustapha also instructed the officers to visit each farmer’s home rather than having farmers come to a designated area to receive the much-needed assistance.

The MMA-ADA also came under fire after residents claimed that they were “not responsive” following the Minister’s initial visit. Residents had previously sought the assistance of the Minister with repairing sections of the dam in the scheme.

The spill weir located in the Abary Conservancy

General Manager (ag) of the MMA-ADA however indicated that there had been three attempts to carry out the requested works but due to the rising water level, the works were put on hold. He assured residents that materials to execute the works had already been sourced and that the works would be carried out as soon as the water level had receded.

Minister Mustapha also informed residents that works were carried out to clear vegetation from sections of the Abary River, which significantly improved the flow of water. This, he said, has resulted in water receding by at least two inches in the river.

Livestock farmers were also given additional assistance to safely house their animals, as water levels continue to fluctuate in the area. GLDA has also implemented a 24-hour pontoon service to transport animals from flooded lands, one such place being the MMA-ADA abattoir.