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With several areas across the country experiencing high water levels due to heavy rainfall, the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) said it has intensified its operations to ensure affected areas are drained within the shortest possible time.
According to a government release, last Tuesday, Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha, visited several of the City’s drainage structures to assess their operations as part of the ministry’s efforts to prevent flooding in Georgetown. Wednesday he also visited the river defense dam at Grove on the East Bank of Demerara after receiving reports that there was overtopping at several areas due to the recent high tide.
While offering comments on the current state of affairs, Mustapha said all the structures were operable and the engineers from the NDIA were monitoring the situation on a 24-hour basis.
It was advised the Ministry is putting a number of other systems in place to assist with effectively draining affected areas, as the minister called on residents to desist from dumping garbage in the waterways.
But former Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson, said the magnitude of the flooding on Tuesday in Georgetown could have been avoided had the PPP Government continued with the water management systems the A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) implemented. “The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has dismantled all the systems that were in place, without any adequate replacement,” he charged.
During the coalition government, Patterson who had responsibility for this area said, “before every rain season (during the dry season), we would lower the water levels in all canals and primary waterways, so that when the rains come, they would be able to retain more water, the ministry would establish a sand bank, which was we placed heaps of sand in various locations, and had staff available to fill sandbags for any citizen (staff was available 24 hours to assist in filling sandbags).”
Further, according to Patterson, “hotlines were established for senior citizens and vulnerable persons to call, and they were helped free of cost.”
Unless the drains are kept clean and the environment tidy, to enable the smooth flood of the rain waters, flooding will continue to be an issue, and with the PPP refusing to adequately finance M&CC, Tuesday’s flooding will become a regular event, the former minister warned.
Meanwhile, Mustapha informed that in addition to having fixed pumps working, the sluices are being operated when the tide is out. According to the minister the ongoing nationwide clean-up efforts have also contributed to the timely drainage of the City and he thinks citizens should look at the effects pollution is having on the effectiveness of our drainage system. But Patterson called this ‘gimmickry.’
According to the former minister “the PPP has reduced drainage of the city and low-lying areas to photoshoots once a year, calling it ‘National Clean Up Day,’ which is just [President Irfaan] Ali and crew, posing for the cameras with a broom in hand. And true to nature, when the city floods, they blame sleeping pump attendants.”
Mustapha said a lot of money is spent to procure and install these structures and oftentimes they are damaged when garbage gets into the pipes and other parts of the structures. This is why we need those additional pumps from India because we need to strengthen our drainage capacity.”
But Patterson said the flooding situation resides in “the fact [the PPP government is] clueless and uncaring!” These crises, he also said, allow for the PPP to go on another sending spree, awarding huge contracts to their friends and families, to setup yet another task force, distribute moneys to their supporters in yet another “flood relief program” – however it will be of little use, preventative maintenance is a year-round activity not a political gimmick.
The Hydromet Department’s daily weather update urged citizens to take the necessary precautions noting that with the current forecast conditions, flash flooding and flooding are very likely over low-lying and flood-prone areas. The advisory also said that in areas of thundershowers, heavy winds and possible lightning strikes can be expected.
Earlier this month, the Hydromet Department issued an advisory forecasting wetter than usual conditions across all regions of Guyana for the months of November 2022 to January 2023 (Guyana’s secondary rainfall season).
The advisory predicted that the usual secondary rainfall season will be augmented by persistent La Nina conditions during the season and that rainfall is expected to increase considerably from mid-November and continue at least to January 2023.
During the upcoming rainy season, water levels in conservancies, reservoirs, and inland rivers across Regions 1 to 8 and 10 are likely to increase with a high risk of flooding. On the other hand, Region 9 would continue to be dry but can expect more than the usual number of rainy days. The highest amount of rainfall is projected for Regions 1, 2, 3, 7, and Northern Region 8 with increasing concerns for Regions 4 and 5.