Chinowieng villagers still waiting for answers on dead fish

As dead fish continue to turn up in their waterways, villagers of Chinowieng, in the Cuyuni/Mazaruni area, are still awaiting the results of tests on samples collected by the authorities.

A resident of the community of Jawalla, which is located in the Mazaruni area, in Region 7, told this newspaper yesterday that he has travelled to Chinowieng and nearby communities recently and he noted that residents were still worried about the situation. He said that since the Regional Health Services (RHS) teams left the community several weeks ago after taking samples for tests, villagers have not gotten any feedback.

A RHS official told Stabroek News on Monday that the samples are still being analysed. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the tests are being undertaken by the environmental health labs at the RHS and he noted that the results may be available in a few weeks. In the interim, he noted that the community health workers are monitoring the situation and that there has not been any health case recorded recently in connection with the situation.

The Jawalla resident, who travelled out of the area over the weekend, told this newspaper that Toshao of Chinowieng, Roland Rogers, was concerned about the situation and he and other leaders of the community were expected to air their concerns with the authorities. He said that it was only the Yarrow fish, a main staple for families in the mainly Arawak community, which is affected by the situation.

The man said that the observation was initially made several months ago when persons at Chinowieng saw the fish floating in the waterways there. The man noted that the fish, when examined, have a “leech-like” white organism on them. He said that traditionally, the locals use a ‘poison’ method to catch fish in the area and they initially thought it was responsible for the dead fish. However, after consuming the fish, villagers complained of diarrhoea and vomiting, and heath workers were notified. “That’s months ago the authorities know ’bout this and yet, a day like today they cannot say what is the cause,” the resident said.

The concerned man added that there is speculation that a road and hydro-power project being undertaken in the area may be related to the situation. “People in the area saying that the project, like whatever chemicals they using there,” he noted, while saying that many persons believe the situation is being placed on the back burner by the health authorities.

He emphasised that the water in the area is used for drinking and cooking purposes and as a result persons have been cautious about using it. He added that the dead fish have been observed in the entire Mazaruni River and its tributaries, including the Kukui and Kako Rivers.

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