Prime Minister, Agri Minister engage Charity residents on flooding solutions
-two new pumps installed at Devonshire, Hampton Court
-NDIA to liaise with local entities to provide relief
-CDC to support residents
Prime Minister Hon. Brigadier (ret’d) Mark Phillips and Agriculture Minister Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha, on Tuesday, travelled to flood-affected Charity, Pomeroon-Supenaam (Region Two) for a direct assessment of the situation and to provide sustainable solutions.
Speaking with DPI, Prime Minister Phillips said the visit also provided an opportunity to engage residents on the challenges and possible long-term remedies.
“We basically came here to … get a first-hand view as to the flooding in that area and there is a lot needs to be done in terms of not only clearing the outfalls and the kokers and whatever and pumping the water out, but also there is a lot of garbage build up over the years that is blocking the outfalls in those areas.”
The Prime Minister believes that flooding in the area could be remedied.
“My understanding is that whenever there is rainfall and there is water on the land this is an issue that affect people two to three times a year, but we feel that it can be fixed with proper engineering work and support from Central Government and also the involvement of the people in the area.
He said community involvement is key to resolving the flooding as littering is a major challenge in Charity, and that has contributed to the clogging of some drainage structures.
In the short term, the PM said the Civil Defence Commission will travel to the area on Wednesday to do an assessment and to provide relief supplies to affected persons. In the medium to long term, however, he said mitigation work is needed, which will involve the Neighbourhood Democratic Councils, Regional Democratic Council, and the community, with support from the Central Government.
The team visited a section of the Charity squatting area and the Charity river dam where the pump was inspected.
Residents used the opportunity to share their concerns about the flooding with the Prime Minister and the Agriculture Minister.
In an invited comment, resident, Mr. Lincoln Melville said urgent Government intervention is needed to address flooding.
“We’re living in Charity squatting area since I was a kid and as you could see, this is what going on here; every rainfall water, not just high tide, when water come up high in the river, we getting flood out behind here and we need the Government to look into this matter urgent as possible,” he said.
Another resident, Mr. James Benjamin shared similar sentiments. “This here make 21 years since I living here right, and the majority of the time is pure flood as you try to plant to get something for your kitchen garden. All the time you ain’t reaping nothing because soon as the rain fall, you flooding out because you ain’t got no drainage,” he said.
Mewnwhile, Mr. Derrick Rahaman is concerned about the possible health hazards from the constant floods. “I live around 15 years in squatting area. We really need road in the place because right now, the water is about two feet inside deh, right. At least me and meh family, we getting ground itch pun we foot right now, so we glad if the authority could do something about it right now,” he said.
In response, the Agriculture Minister told DPI he has instructed the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) to work along with the local bodies to ensure they put measures in place to drain the area. While this will bring temporary relief to residents, he noted that a long-term plan to improve drainage in the area will have to be developed.
Minister Mustapha has also instructed the National Agriculture and Research and Extension Institute, the Guyana Rice Development Board and the Guyana Livestock and Development Authority to do an assessment of the farmers’ losses.
“We will ensure that we extend to the farmers who have suffered losses, we will extend some planting material and some aid to them, give them some help from our Ministry so that they could continue planting,” he said.
The team also visited two new pumps at Devonshire Castle and Hampton Court that will soon be in operation along with two others installed in that section of the Essequibo Coast. Minister Mustapha said this is part of the long-term plan to address the issue.
“They expected it by the weekend, both pumps, all four pumps will be available and then we will have more pumps available to take it to those areas that are affected there. Also, we have instructed NDIA to monitor this system ’round the clock. They are also setting up some small task force in the various communities where the community will help to monitor these officers who are monitoring these sluices and the pumps.”
Minister Mustapha said the Ministry is also concerned about conditions in the Pomeroon and a team will be dispatched to the area for assessments.