Gov’t still hoping for large Japan grant for MMA phase two

Government is hopeful that a grant of a substantial amount will be made available from Japan to complete Phase 2 of the Mahaica/ Mahaicony/ Abary-Agriculture Develop-ment Authority (MMD/ADA) project with a view to bringing flood relief to the residents of the upper and lower reaches of the Mahaicony.

Speaking to the media on Friday, Minister of Agricul-ture Robert Persaud said that negotiations are still ongoing and it isn’t clear what amount of funding the Government of Japan will make available.

“So far, two technical missions from Japan have visited Guyana in relation to the proposed project,” the Minister said. “They will look at the finding of (the World Bank) GEF (Global Environmental Fund) study (in their deliberations),” the Minister said.

Asked if there was a timeline for the completion of the negotiations and disbursement of funds, Persaud said that Government’s timeline is “immediate,” illustrating the urgent need for the expansion works. Persaud said that the cost of the MMA Phase 2 project will be in the neighbourhood of US$60M. The works are necessary to prevent the flooding of the Mahaica Creek as a means of relieving the pressure on the East Demerara Water Conser-vancy (EDWC).

The Minister said also that the Ministry of Foreign Trade and International Co-operation (MOFTIC) has been asked to track the progress of the negotiations for the grant from the Japanese Govern-ment.

The level of the conservancy reached 57.8 GD (Georgetown Datum) raising concerns following heavy rain over the past few weeks. As such immediate works commenced in the conservancy. These included the clearing of 55 miles of internal waterways in the EDWC, the widening of 20 miles of the conservancy embankment and the construction of a new intake irrigation structure in the conservancy just behind Enmore.

According to the Minister, the World Bank’s GEF US$3.8M project for the EDWC is to provide data for further projects aimed at strengthening the integrity of the dam. This project, termed the Conservancy Adaptation Project, is aimed at strengthening Government and donor understanding of the EDWC system and coastal drainage patterns through the integration of advanced mapping and engineering analysis.

He said that in the meanwhile the Government has been expending resources on the broadening of the dam in preparation for the rainy season now active. Moreso, he said that there has been more than 20 miles of shoring up of the dam and four excavators are working. Government has spent some $279M on the EDWC for the year.

He said that the intake structures at Enmore and at Shanks are being worked on and that additional outlet channels are being prepared through the GEF project. Additionally, some money from the GEF project will be used for the purchase of equipment while some will be used for the construction of the Cunha outlet which channels water to the Demerara River. Asked what steps are being taken to add to the drainage capacity of the EDWC, Persaud said: “We are looking to activate or reactivate [northbound] drainage.” He also mentioned further that works will be done to enhance drainage of the EDWC through Demerara River outlets.

Critics have argued that two years after the Great Flood more concerted efforts should have been made by the government to acquire funds for the MMA phase 2 and the conservancy work. The Chinese government had also been approached in relation to funding for phases 2 and 3 of the MMA scheme.

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