Dochfour residents eager to return to farms

-want to be consulted on relief channel

Having endured weeks of stagnant water and see-saw flooding, Dochfour residents are now faced with muddy yards and roads and the difficult task of piecing their farms back together.

An almost drained street in Dochfour yesterday.
An almost drained street in Dochfour yesterday.

Stabroek News visited the East Coast community yesterday and spoke with residents who expressed relief that the water has receded and there is fervent hope that it will not return.

There is a general consensus among residents that the reason their land was flooded is because of the Hope Koker which was not working. They explained that since the koker started working within a few days their land was completely drained.

The residents’ uppermost concern at the moment is heading back to farming which is the sole means of income for most of the families. They expressed their frustration that no one has visited them to assess their losses and offer some sort of compensation. A group of farmers visited the Agriculture Ministry on Wednesday last to speak with Minister Robert Persaud however they did not meet with the Minister but spoke to other officials who said that they would visit the area to do “booking” of names by last Friday however as of yesterday no one had visited Dochfour.

Farmer Roy Doodnauth told Stabroek News that the community cannot “sit down and wait” on the authorities before they re-start planting and farmers have started to clear their farms and spray the tall grass that has grown  on the farms due to abundant rainfall.

Doodnauth and other farmers are concerned that when the field officers finally visit there would not be any evidence of what they have lost, but he reiterated that they cannot wait but have to start doing something. He has purchased boulanger seedlings which he will be putting down soon.

When questioned if they were not wary of the rains coming again, Doodnauth said that he is assured that as long as the koker is working then the area would not be submerged as it had been. He once again talked of the 2005 floods when Dochfour had not gotten as much water as it did in the last several weeks. In 2005 the Hope koker was in good working condition.

Another issue of great concern to residents is the fact that the authorities have not relayed any of their plans for the Hope/Dochfour Conservancy Relief Channel to them. They are worried that the channel will have to pass through their farm lands and they will have to be relocated. The question of relocation is a worrying one since according to Doodnauth there is no other available land in the Hope estate. He explained that famers from the Mahaica River who were relocated during the 2005 floods are yet to receive acres of land that they were promised. The community does not want to fall into the same category.

They said that the engineers should come and consult with them since they live and work in the area and might have some insight on the plans. In the meantime they are hearing all sorts of rumours that are nagging at them. The Guyana Citizens’ Initiative (GCI) had also urged that the final engineering design for the Conservancy Relief Channel be made available for public scrutiny so as to benefit from the “widest possible expertise”.

Dochfour residents say too that doxycycline tablets, which are a preventative measure against leptospirosis, should be distributed to all the families in the area. Since it is a farming community, animals including sheep and cows were immersed in the water where the residents also had to dwell.

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