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Several machines deployed to carry out drainage works

Other systems to be put in place to assist farmers with losses 

Residents and farmers along the Upper Corentyne area, who suffered huge losses as a result of flooding due to heavy rainfall on Friday evening last, are now benefiting from government intervention.

Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha

These interventions came as recently appointed Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha led a team of officials from the various agencies of the Ministry to the affected areas. During his visit, the Minister instructed his officers to take immediate action to assist the affected residents and farmers.

“What I’ve noticed, there are many canals in the areas that need to be cleared. I spoke with the head of the NDIA, Mr. Flatts, the Regional Chairman and representatives from the NDC and RDC to come into these areas. As a matter of fact, we’ve dispatched three machines and a fourth machine will be here shortly to get this problem under control,” Minister Mustapha said.

He sighted a breakdown of communication between the bodies responsible for carrying out developmental works within the Region as one of the reasons for the delay in drainage works to these areas.

Residents expressed their satisfaction with the Minister’s visit and the immediate action taken to put mechanisms in place to assist them.

The Minister assured the residents that this will be the way in which this new administration will be handling and dealing with issues.

Officials from the relevant authorities were also instructed to compile detailed assessment reports of the flood affected areas and submit them to the Minister so further action can be taken.

“Given the magnitude of damages incurred in such a short space of time, I’d like for the officers to meet with the affected residents, gather information and submit a report to my office so we can see how best government can assist. The officers from the livestock authority are here and they will work with you to get as assessment of the damages and the way forward,” Minister Mustapha said.

One of the affected poultry farmers in the area has estimated her losses to over G$3.9M. She indicated that she was expected to sell the birds yesterday but due to the flooding the birds died and she has to wait until the waters have completely receded and the farm is properly sanitized to resume her operations.

The poultry farmer further stated that the lack of proper drainage contributed heavily to the flooding.

Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha speaking with a poultry farmer who suffered loses as a result of the flooding.

“When the rain falls we would take a shovel and clear out the front area. We’ve had heavier rainfall and never experienced this type of flooding. When we ask for assistance with drainage, the NDC always tells us they do not have money,” the farmer said.

Minister informed the farmers that the NDIA has a machine working in the area and it will be deployed to assist them with clearing the waterways in a few days.   

Residents also aired their dissatisfaction with persons who are tasked with operating the sluices in the area. Minister informed residents that a committee will be formed to effectively monitor these individuals to ensure the drainage and irrigation structures are properly managed.

Minister Mustapha engages farmers and residents

“I will work with the Regional Chairman to set up a small committee comprising of persons from the CDCs, NDCs, the Regional Office, the Water Users’ Association and the NDIA. We will put a system in place and hold these operators accountable when things are not functioning as they should,” Minister Mustapha said. 

NDIA Regional officials were also instructed to submit weekly reports to the Minister detailing the progress of drainage and irrigation works and the impacts of these works in the Region.

Minister of Local Government, Nigel Dharamlall, who was a part of the envoy, also addressed the issue of officers who are not preforming as they should.

“I spoke to the REO and one of the things that we will do within the local Government System, is have every NDC create an information system where every citizen must be allowed to lodge complaints, make an observation or raise an issue at their RDC or NDC. I’ve allocated staff to liaise with those officers so that government can have a seamless feedback with those residents,” Minister Dharamlall said.

Region Six Regional Chairman, David Armogan who was also present, informed the residents that officials from the Ministry of Health will be visiting the affected communities starting from Monday to do an assessment and assist residents with cleaning materials given the fact that the stagnant water is known to present major health risks. 

During his visit, Minister Mustapha visited areas from Union and No. 53 to No. 58 Villages. He also visited the Mocundo dam, sluice at No. 52 Village, the drainage pump stations at Joppa and Eversham.

Minister is expected to visit the Essequibo Coast within the next few days to address the current paddy bug infestation rice farmers are experiencing. 

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