Govt Ministers engage Mayor, other City officials on flooding in G/Town

Agri. Minister says Mayor’s responses to concerns unacceptable
urges M&CC not to play politics when executing responsibilities 

Following a meeting with the senior officials of the Georgetown Mayor and City Council (M&CC) Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha said the Government would explore all avenues to ensure that the City Council executes its mandate.

The Minister and a team including Minster of Local Government and Regional Development, Hon. Nigel Dharamlall and Minister within the Ministry of Public Works, Hon. Deodat Indar on Thursday engaged the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, and City Engineer on flooding in the city.

The Agriculture Minister says the meeting aimed to identify the challenges that led to flooding in several parts of the city, following the Government’s recent investments to improve drainage capacity.

Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha

“For the last two occasions that we experienced heavy rainfall in the city, we’ve had flash floods in some areas while in other areas, we’ve had extensive flooding. Over the last month, the President and other Ministers have been visiting a number of pumps and sluices in Georgetown to ensure these pieces of equipment that were provided to the City Council were being utilised.

To our dismay, we’ve seen that the supervision of these structures left much to be desired. It is clear that the City Council is not supervising these sluice and pump operators,” Minister Mustapha said.

The Minister also said he found the Mayor’s response that the M&CC’s technical officers were responsible for the supervision of the structures unacceptable.

“The Mayor basically said if the technical people cannot supervise then he cannot do much about that. I find that very strange because the responsibility stops at the Mayor’s desk and he has to ensure that the Town and these critical structures are manned properly and that all systems are in place because this is our Capital City and as a Government, we’ve been making the resources available to the City Council in terms of getting the D&I system in action.

During the latter part of 2020, we would’ve increased the drainage capacity of Georgetown by installing three additional pumps. Georgetown now has 12 pumps installed. We also have approximately 10 sluices,” he said.  

Added to that, Minister Mustapha said the City Council is supposed to inform the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) if a pump or sluice becomes inoperable but recently, that has not been happening. He also said following an assessment of the pumps in Georgetown, technical officers from the NDIA discovered that three pumps were down. Two of those pumps were fixed after the NDIA intervened.

Minister Mustapha said the Government was very concerned about the flooding in Georgetown and other sections of the country. He maintained that Georgetown wouldn’t have experienced that level of flooding had all the structures been operable.

The Agriculture Minister  also told the media that the initial plan was for the officials from the M&CC to engage them after the meeting. However, both the Mayor and Deputy Mayor declined to do so, which he believes is a poor representation of their Offices.

Meanwhile, the Local Government Minister said since taking office, the PPP/C Government has been doing the “heavy lifting” in Georgetown. He said the Government had hoped that the City Council would’ve engaged in the sustainable management of the facilities that were put in place. Minister Dharamlall also said moving forward, disciplinary action should be taken against those found neglecting their duties as it relates to managing the city’s drainage structures.

Minister of Local Government & Regional Development, NIgel Dharamlall

Additionally, Minister within the Ministry of Public Works said the City Council was failing.  “The management of the city, rather than being serious with the problem and call a spade a spade, is flouting the responsibility and throwing it back to the various Ministries,” he said.

Minister Indar also said the Government would continue to work in the best interest of the citizens of Georgetown. 

Minister within the Ministry of Public Works, Deodat Indar

The Ministers said that a plan will be put in place to ensure the city’s drainage structures are managed effectively.

Minister Mustapha emphasized that the Government cannot assume those responsibilities without due process being followed. He also said Georgetown’s drainage system is the responsibility of the Council and that Government will be exploring all avenues to ensure that the Council is accountable and executes its responsibilities. 

Minister within the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, Anand Persaud also attended the meeting.

Minister within the Ministry of Local Government & Regional Development, Annand Persaud