D&I works commence in Lowland days after Agri. Minister’s visit to flood prone areas

Residents of Lowland on the East Coast of Demerara are singing praises for the swift action of the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) in carrying out works on a number of drains and canals in the village in an effort to alleviate flooding in the area.

After meeting with residents in the village last Wednesday, Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha immediately instructed officials from the NDIA to have a machine sent to the area to commence the works.

An excavator was subsequently deployed to the area on Saturday last and works are currently ongoing. Once completed, hundreds of villagers stand to benefit from the approximately 2770 rods of drainage channels that will be cleared. The ongoing works are being executed at an estimated cost of over GY$2.2M and should be completed within the next three weeks.

NDIA engineers examining the works done so far

Residents of Lowland expressed their satisfaction with the swift action of the Ministry to bring some level of relief to the community.

Lorence Chester, 88, said that she was pleased with the with the fact that works are being done to bring some amount of relief to the residents of Lowland.

“I paid nearly $1M to build up here. This was a trench. The other day when rain fall, look the things pack up in my house. Three feet water, if you go behind my fence you will see the mark. All behind that tank water coming up till there. I praise God. When I look out and see the machine working I felt so happy. The Minister was here and I heard somebody from the area was speaking about the condition of the drains. I told my neighbor that we will get help because the Minister promised to do something. When I saw the machine I called my neighbor again and said look, you see, we’re getting the help,” Ms. Chester said.

Lorence Chester

Chumandat Persaud, a mason who has been residing in the area for 12 years, said that the water in the drains are already receding.

“Me and my wife went to the meeting with the Minister last weeks when he promised that the machine would come and start the work this week but it came since Saturday. He promised and he fulfill his promise. The whole place does get flooding because the place na get drainage but now that the machine here working, we will get the drainage. With the work they do already you can see the water going down already,” Mr. Persaud.

Chumandat Persaud

During the meeting, residents raised a number of issues with the Minister and his team, which included the need for works to be done on a number drains and canals, rehabilitations works to the main roads and land allocations, as many persons are currently squatting. The subject Minister immediately committed to having a machine deployed to the area to commence works as part of a complete upgrade to the community’s drainage system.

The machine is expected to remain in the area until all the works have been completed. The NDIA was also tasked with compiling a report detailing the extent of the works to be done in the area on a regular basis.

A section of one of the drains in Lowland that has been cleared

Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha said that government is looking at developing a plan to upgrade the country’s entire drainage system.

He noted that, with climate change, rising sea levels and somewhat unpredictable weather patterns, government has begun the ground work to ensure a comprehensive drainage and irrigation system is developed and introduced within the next five years.

“Guyana is below sea level so it is government’s responsibility to put systems in place to safeguard the citizens of this country from the effects of flooding. This is why we have commenced working on a comprehensive plan to improve the country’s drainage system. I cannot disclose too much now, what I can say is that we will be installing more drainage pumps in these vulnerable areas, as well as scheduling maintenance works on these canals and drains. We know for a fact that, prior to this government taking office, things were done in a reactive manner. Only when there was flooding or during the rainy season then you would see works being done. As Minister of Agriculture, I will ensure agencies such as the NDIA are proactive. They will be guided by a clear work programme developed using both technical knowledge and stakeholder consultation. This is to ensure the needs of the persons set to benefit are considered,” Minister Mustapha said.

The subject Minister also said that Budget 2021 will set the foundation for the government’s developmental agenda which will see a complete transformation to Guyana’s economy through investments in the country’s productive sectors.