Despite sporadic heavy showers along the East Coast Demerara (ECD) on Thursday there was no increase in water levels and residents were gratified though in Ann’s Grove many complaints were raised about the kokers there.
Floodwaters have finally left Greenfield and most of Beehive which had both been inundated for weeks. When Stabroek News visited the area shortly after 3 pm the streets and yards in these two communities were dry and residents reported that they were “grateful” the water had finally receded.
Clonbrook, sections of Ann’s Grove, Dochfour, Hope Estate and Lowland Housing Scheme are still dry but are battling mud while still waiting to replant their farms which were seriously damaged by the floodwaters. Farmers in these areas reported that they still have not heard about any compensation from the relevant authorities and are “really put out” by this.
In an invited comment on the evening of January 9, in relation to the compensation of Greenfield/Dochfour (includes Ann’s Grove, Clonbrook, Hope Estate and Lowlands) farmers, Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud had only stated that the ministry will be approaching various financial institutions about them providing financial assistance to these farmers
However, while floodwaters are no longer there the East Coast people have not forgotten the factors which they believe were responsible for water accumulating on their land. They have blamed poor maintenance of their communities’ drainage and irrigation systems for their woes.
The ECD Clean-up Committee had issued a notice to several drainage authorities last Tuesday informing them of the various problems that need to be addressed in Beehive, Greenfield, Clonbrook, Ann’s Grove, Two Friends, Hope Estate and Lowlands Housing Scheme.
Among the structures listed as needing “urgent action to improve drainage and irrigation” in the area which the committee represents was the Ann’s Grove Middle Walk Dam. The notice had stated that the dam “is leaking at both sides and at the bottom”. This, according to the committee, was partially responsible for the “black water” which was in the area last week.
This issue was discussed at a meeting held on Monday morning between members of the clean-up committee and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA), Lionel Wordsworth. It was decided that an engineer would be sent to investigate the dam’s leakage.
Further, the state of the Ann’s Grove Koker (located at the beginning of the Ann’s Grove/Clonbrook Access Road) which was supposed to be properly rebuilt following a contract in June of last year was also raised at the meeting. When this newspaper visited Ann’s Grove on Thursday residents said that “the kokers located in the area make no sense”.
Marvin Bristol, a resident of Ann’s Grove, explained that a koker located along the Access Road which leads into a section of Ann’s Grove, Two Friends and Dochfour has not been functioning for years. While the man was unable to say exactly how long the koker has not been working, he and other residents, said that it was one of the contributing factors to the floodwaters remaining in Ann’s Grove for prolonged periods.
“There is no way for us to open the sluice door…it has not been opened for a long time and there is no attendant for the koker,” Bristol explained.
The koker located along that Access Road is responsible for draining water out of Ann’s Grove and into a drainage canal which flows to another koker located at the Ann’s Grove/Clonbrook Access Road along the ECD Public Road.
Further, a small koker located at the Ann’s Grove Middle Walk Dam is unable to manage the large volumes of water it is required to control. Bristol explained that the small koker located at the Middle Walk Trench controls water flow coming from the Ann’s Grove Crown Dam.
“This sluice (koker) is too small to deal with the amount of water it have to control. A while ago they say they woulda look after it but nothing has been done,” Bristol reported.
Another resident, who requested anonymity, explained that there were three kokers responsible for the area’s drainage. These kokers are the Middle Walk koker, the koker located along the Access Road and the main koker which is located at the beginning of the Ann’s Grove/Clonbrook Access Road.
According to the resident, none of the three kokers has been steadily maintained and although villagers have made several complaints about their state nothing is being done.
“Imagine they say they spend millions to look after that koker located out at the Public Road just when you turning to drive in the Ann’s Grove/Clonbrook Access Road…I still can’t see what the money do with that structure,” the resident said.
Wordsworth and Chairman of the Region Four Regional Democratic Council, Clement Corlette, could not be reached for comment about the Ann’s Grove koker situation. However, residents are adamant that flood or no flood they will “press the matter until it is fixed”.