Farmers, residents welcome Agri. Ministry’s planned drainage works for Melanie

– pledges support to ensure canals are desilted, maintained

Farmers and residents from Melanie and other surrounding communities along the East Coast of Demerara will soon benefit from improved drainage as works have commenced to desilt several main canals in the area.

Agriculture Minister, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha met with residents from Melanie and other surrounding areas to discuss the scope of the scheduled drainage works.

Agriculture Minister, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha while engaging residents from Melanie North

Prior to Monday’s visit, Vice President, Hon. Bharrat Jagdeo had visited the community to meet with residents to discuss some of the government’s developmental plans for both the residential and farming communities along the East Coast corridor.

During the meeting with the Vice President, several residents raised concerns about the lack of proper drainage and sought the government’s urgent intervention to have the issue resolved.

While some farmers have occupied the reserve, Minister Mustapha explained that some access will have to be given to allow the excavator to traverse the dam in order to properly desilt the canals.

“I walked from Enterprise and came across to Melanie and noticed that there was a lot of encroachment on the reserve. As a result of that, our machine cannot get free access to desilt the canals. I spoke to some of the residents and farmers and they’ve agreed that access has to be given so that they can get better drainage. I’ve also put some other plans in place so that the machine can maneuver along different parts of the reserve so that we can clean those canals. After speaking with the residents and explaining the scope of work needed to access proper drainage, they have pledged their full cooperation and those works will start tomorrow,” he explained.

A section of one of the canals that was deslited by the ministry

Sirestsi Bascom, a councilor from the Buxton/Foulis Neighborhood Democratic Council and Chairman for the Melanie Community Development Council 

“This project came about after we would’ve reached out to the minister about some of the flooding we’ve been having in the community. We had asked for his intervention to see how we can deal with the drainage issue and mitigate flooding in the community. I’m happy that the minister came and he was able to meet with some of the residents and farmers who are usually affected. We were able to have a fruitful consultation and come to an agreement on how we will move forward so that residents can have better drainage,” he explained.

Prior to Monday’s visit, engineers from the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority visited the area to assess the communities’ drainage networks.

A section of a canal that is scheduled for desilting

Residents also welcomed the health benefits that are to be derived from the project, noting that the area is infested with mosquitos.

Minister Mustapha said that he will be returning to the area to hold a meeting with farmers to develop a plan to improve agriculture in the area. He also disclosed that the ministry through the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) will also develop a comprehensive drainage plan to guide the extensive and continuous works needed in the area.