Persons advised to take necessary precautions as forecast predicts current weather conditions may lead to further flooding in low-lying, flood-prone areas

Agri. Minister says gov’t putting all efforts in place to minimize flooding, all drainage structures operable

Following the announcement by His Excellency, President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali last Saturday about the establishment of a Cabinet-level Task Force to coordinate the response to the current rainy season and potential flood impacts across Guyana, Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha is advising person residing in low-lying and flood-prone areas to take the necessary precautions as the forecast provided by the Hydromet Department predicts that the current weather conditions may lead to further flooding.

The Taskforce which is headed by Prime Minister, Hon. Brigadier (R’td)  Mark Phillips, comprises the Ministers of Agriculture, Local Government and Regional Development, and Housing and Water, the CDC’s Director-General, the Guyana Defence Force’s Chief of Staff, the National Security Advisor, the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority’s Chairman, and the Chief Hydrometeorological Officer.

While speaking with members of the media during an event yesterday, Minister Mustapha said reports received suggest that all of the drainage structures in affected areas are operable and cautioned persons residing in low-lying areas to take the necessary precautions.  

“All of our systems are in place. We have a number of pumps in various parts of the country. Our sluices are operable so when the tide is up, the pumps are in operation and when the tides go out, we open the sluices. We’ve also deployed monitoring teams to various parts of the country. Based on the forecast from the Hydromet Office, we will have more rainfall. Those persons living in low-lying areas are advised to take the necessary precautions. Citizens can rest assured that, from the government level and at the level of the task force, all efforts are being put in place to minimize flooding.

As it relates to the allocation of resources to critical areas, Minister Mustapha explained that all pumps are operable and that mobile pumps have all been deployed to affected areas across the country.

“We have permanent pumps in critical areas across the country and those pumps are operable. We are monitoring those pumps. In Georgetown alone, we have 13 pumps and they are all operable. Although we have all these systems in place, there will be instances when people will encounter flooding because of the high intensity of rainfall we are experiencing. Where ever there is a need for machinery or other resources we will try our best to make those resources available.

Last Wednesday, Minister Mustapha along with a team of technical staff from the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA), visited a number of drainage pumps sluices in Georgetown following instances of flooding across the City. During his visit, it was discovered that several sluices were not fully opened, thereby restricting the flow of water. It was after the minister instructed the sluice operators to raise the sluice doors, that there was a noticeable difference in the flow of water into the river.

Meanwhile, Senior Minister within the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh told reporters that although it was too early to pronounce on the extent to which persons were affected, tremendous pressure is placed on the government’s resources when these situations take place.

“It is still relatively early for me to say, in a quantified manner, the extent of the damage. I will say that every time we have these floods it takes a very significant toll on our economy. It affects production, particularly agriculture production, and it exerts tremendous pressure on the budget because we’d have to find resources to respond. As a government we recognize how important it is to protect our Coast from these floods, first of all, to equip ourselves to be able to respond to the floods and ultimately to protect and reinforce the Coast from such flood events.

Dr. Singh went on to say that the government’s response to flooding can be characterized as two-fold with the first aspect being an immediate response which involves removing floodwaters from the land as soon as possible, while the second aspect involves developing infrastructure that will enable Guyana’s Coast and other flood-prone areas to be more flood resilient. Such infrastructure, he added, includes structures like the Hope Canal and that some of the technical works to identify the potential locations and the engineering designs have commenced.