Who is accountable for Corentyne Flooding?

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Dear Editor,

With regards to your front page news coverage, Corentyne farmers, businesses, and home owners are under severe pressure from this severe bout of flooding. Billions of dollars in investments, businesses, cash crops, rice, animal lives as well as various stocks would be lost. It is or should have been avoidable. The Ministries of Agriculture and Works are responsible for drainage and prevention of flooding. Was there due diligence to prevent this disaster?  Responsible individuals must be held accountable for this disaster.  Under the coalition, there was not such widespread flooding. Agriculture Minister Holder listened  to good advice. He was not driven by greed and corruption.

The people of the Region are very angry. Some have taken to the streets because they know the flooding could have been avoided if the Ministries had done the right thing. They know what went wrong.  They are not easily fooled. It is not just excessive rain that led to the flooding. It is also man made. There was not effective planning and mitigation efforts to counter expected heavy rain. Minister Zulfi Mustapha and Vice Chair Zamal Hussain of Region 6 have spent considerable time trying to pacify the people and to cool passion. It is not working. People speak openly! The people can’t believe what the government has foisted on them for voting almost 100% PPP. Was Cde. Zamal locked off? The leadership in town should take note. Notice that the Chair David Armogan has been quiet; he knows the facts of what caused the flooding and is silent because he does not want to go against the leadership in town. Serious questions are being asked of what potentially led to this disaster and rightly so in order to hold people accountable for their poor decision making or is it greed.

Kookreet Savannah, a vast expanse at the large backdam, was a key area that could have mitigated the flooding. It used to serve as an empolder to hold water during periods of heavy rainfall. Permission was given to selected farmers to grow cash crops, thus removing this area as reservoir to store water in case of the waterways overflowing their banks. When the scheme was designed, Kookreet Savanah was intentionally left as a buffer zone to collect water to ameliorate flooding in other areas and to be used for cattle farming. Cattle farmers have been displaced by cash crop farmers.  Was Jagdeo informed of this new arrangement?  The new farmers invested money to ready Kookreet Savanah for farming for which it was never designed. Cash crop farmers cut the dam and put tubes so they can drain the land and grow cash crops. Didn’t that lead to the flooding of the entire region? Huge amounts of water got dumped from the Kookreet Savanah into the drainage system and the system couldn’t handle it. It was poorly thought out get rich quick scheme that failed. Thus, the entire area become flooded and everyone has been affected.

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Wasn’t Kookreet Savanah supposed to remain uncultivated to store water and avoid overloading of drainage system of the scheme? Who gave permission to farm there and why? Are the farmers related to the Minister and the Vice Chair? It is a situation of greed and selfishness. Who will be held responsible? This situation creates the ideal grounds for emergency contracts to cronies at exorbitant costs. And guess who will benefit?

In addition to water being dumped into the main scheme from Kookreet Savanah, regular maintenance of drainage was not carried out on the Corentyne.  Contracts were withheld at NDIA from traditional contractors that would have provided routine maintenance work in preparation for the incoming rainfall season. Favored new contractors were favored over regular contractors.

In light of the above, does it not warrant a review of leadership?

Yours truly
Jagnarine K Singh



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