The planned major drainage project for the Mahaica-Mahaicony-Abary Scheme will not commence for some time as the financing agreement with the European Union (EU) is still to be clinched.
Agriculture Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy has mentioned the project twice in recent weeks and said it will be 30M Euros (US$41M).
When contacted by Stabroek News, the Ministry of Finance said, “the current status is that European Union services has just approved the National Indicative Programme (NIP) document. Local delegation officials are currently working with Guyanese Partners to complete the Action Fiche (objective) by August 15th”. Only after the Action Fiche is approved will the financing agreement be prepared.
The NIP falls under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF). While Phase Two of the MMA is still at the funding clearance and ministerial level, the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority has met with EU representatives exchanging technical data on the contours of the project which straddles regions four and five.
Ramsammy had stated during the recent presentation of the 2013-2020 National Strategy for Agriculture that the first portion of the MMA-ADA Phase Two will take up to five years and should make available up to 200,000 acres of land in Mahaicony. Part of the project will be the damming of the Mahaicony River which is expected to ease flooding in the area. General Manager of the Mahaica, Mahaicony, Abary-Agricultural Development Authority (MMA-ADA), Rudolph Gajraj, spoke briefly with Stabroek News, stating that he was awaiting instructions and not much was known at this point in time on the project. He had reiterated that the project was being handled directly by the ministry.
In September of last year, at the Plenary Session of the EDF the Caribbean region secured an EU investment of 1B Euros. The money will be disbursed based on projects and will comprise individual countries under NIPs and also regional projects under the Regional Indicative Programme.
Phase two of the MMA project will focus on the Mahaicony area. Phase two and three of the project were to be completed decades ago, however only the Abary segment was ever completed. Critics say the Abary segment is not functioning the way it was intended and it may have to be reopened and re-engineered before the other phases are tackled. Phases two and three are seen as critical to protecting Mahaicony and Mahaica from deep flooding and to open up more lands for rice farming.
The Bureau of Statistics Calendar of Key Economic Events, April to June 2006 had stated that over 3.2m Euros worth of equipment had arrived in March of the same year to be used for the MMA-ADA Phase Two in the development of 16,000 acres.
Additionally, the government has been promising the commencement of Phase Two works as far back as 2006, however extensive planning has been absent.
The major drainage works were first conceptualized in the early 1950’s and proposals finalised in the 1960’s with the first phase completed in the mid 1980’s.