The National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) yesterday signed a $139.6 M contract with Courtney Benn Contracting Services for the construction of a sluice at Profit, Abary, West Coast Berbice—the latest in a series of projects being done to boost drainage in Region 5 (Mahaica/Mahaicony).
The document was inked in the boardroom of the Ministry of Agriculture, with acting Permanent Secretary George Jarvis and Courtney Benn signing the contract worth $139, 568, 377. Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the NDIA Lionel Wordsworth and Chairman of the Mahaica, Mahaicony, Abary Board Rudolph Gajraj were also present at the signing ceremony. A further $10 million will be spent on consultancy work, which will be done by SRKN’gineering.
In recent times, the NDIA had commenced work on two other sluices in Region 5—one at Cottage and another at Retrieve—to serve the farmers in the predominantly agricultural region, Persaud said. According to him, over $457M has been spent on three sluices and while defending the expenditure he said that it was a good investment for the future. He called it an attempt at “remodeling drainage infrastructure of Region 5 to deal with the effects of climate change.”
All structures will allow drainage in excess of 2.5 inches in a 24-hour cycle. According to Persaud, when all the structures are completed, there will be improved drainage to 44,000 acres of land. He added that the sluices were built following widespread consultations with the farmers and other relevant stakeholders in the area.
Meanwhile, Gajraj said that riverain drainage has always been a problem in Region 5 and that the efforts were being made to arrest the problem. He noted that this was a collaborative effort between the MMA and the NDIA, which is the executing agency for the project. The NDIA, he said, had begun some of the earthen works and was almost finished constructing a conveyance channel to bring the water to the sluice.
He said that this particular sluice would help to address the problems of farmers of the Abary area and would impact on some 12,000 acres of land, most of which are cultivated with rice. He said that there were approximately 10,000 farmers at the back of the area.
Wordsworth explained that the contract had been awarded via an open competitive bidding. The new construction will be a triple door sluice, with each door being wooden and with dimensions of 3.9 metres in width and 4.2 metres in height.
The timeline for the project is one year, but Persaud said that the Ministry hopes that the contractors will be able to complete the work within nine months. The possibility of this being achieved, he said, would depend largely on the weather. He said that it would be best if the sluice became operational in time for next year’s December rains.
Courtney Benn promised that the sluice will be completed within the specified timeline.