Major sea, river defence works planned for $5.1B allocation

Minister of Public Works, Hon. Bishop Juan Edghill has said the $5.1 billion allocated to the Ministry for sea and river defences will allow it to take a proactive approach to addressing issues surrounding the sub-sector this year.

He made these statements during his guest appearance on NCN’s “Budget in Focus” on Friday, where he discussed the Ministry’s work programme.

Minister Edghill said although the allocation may seem small, it would allow the Ministry to undertake major sea and river defence projects in communities countrywide.   

Minister of Public Works Hon. Bishop Juan Edghill

“We are addressing interventions in the Pomeroon. We are addressing interventions at Region Two, and various places. There are major sea defence projects taking place at Uitvlugt and Cornelia Ida. We are undertaking major infrastructural work on the East Bank corridor. There are works being undertaken in Region Five, Region Six and Region Ten.”

The $5.1 billion allocation would be utilised to finance the more than 10 rollover projects from late 2020 and new capital works, among other projects, Minister Edghill relayed.

“We are satisfied that at this stage, we can have $5.1 billion to continue what was started in 2020 and begin and finance new initiatives to protect our sea and river defences in 2021.”

The Minister said the PPP/C Administration recognises the need to make the necessary interventions to protect Guyana’s vast shoreline.  

To this end, he said the Ministry has reinstituted rangers to patrol the sea and river defences. This would help the Government to be better prepared for emergencies.

“You cannot wait until the seawall or river dam defence break away before you act. The rangers must be able to get out there on a daily basis because it is so susceptible that one day everything is fine, but some tide does some damage. So, the people from the villages with the experience, who know about the changes in patterns, will be able to patrol these sea defences and give early warning so that interventions are made before something happens.

The longer you take to act, the worse it gets. You do not wait for a crisis to act and after the crisis you take forever to act while people are suffering. Our river and sea defences affect everyone, not just farmers,” Minister Edghill said.

The Ministry is also set to establish a sea and river defence board and department, in keeping with legal requirements. Guyana is also benefiting from Caribbean Development Bank-funded sea defence projects across the country.