Agriculture Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy today disclosed that a new canal and associated structures will be built to improve drainage in the Canals Polder, West Demerara and a new drainage channel will be opened up at Johanna, Black Bush Polder, Corentyne.
In a letter, he was responding to a February 13th editorial in Stabroek News which had criticized the government over the state of drainage in the Canals Polder and Yakusari, Black Bush.
The editorial had pointed out that after severe flooding last month in the Canals Polder, the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority had met with residents of the area and agreed on the number of times that the main canals should be cleaned each year. The editorial had stated that the government and the NDIA had to have been lax if basic maintenance such as this was only being worked out now, 20 years after the PPP/C took office.
Similarly, in relation to Yakusari, the editorial criticized the drainage authorities over a heavily silted up outfall which if it had been cleared before the rains would have severely reduced flooding in the Black Bush area.
In his letter today, the minister said: “Fact: There is no “bungled drainage infrastructure”. It is true that the drainage system is inadequate at this time. This was recognized since the construction and establishment of the Canals Polder more than 50 years ago. After independence, Guyana did not improve the drainage capacity of this important area and, instead, allowed what we had to deteriorate and disintegrate. Since 1992, significant investments have been made to improve the drainage system in the Canals Polder. The Canals Polder will soon benefit from a new canal and associated structures along with a pumping station to enhance drainage. At the mentioned meeting with NDIA officials and farmers, this new channel was discussed with residents, along with the consultants who are formulating the design. It should be noted that the Canals Polder is the beneficiary from a major project, the Agriculture Export Diversification Project which is at 72% completed at this time. Two years ago, new drainage pumps were installed at Stanleytown. Since then, government has continued to implement drainage programmes and review with the objective of improving efficiency in drainage.
“Under the Agriculture Support Services Project (ASSP), drainage and irrigation structures have been rehabilitated in Black Bush Polder. The East Black Bush area would also benefit from a new northern channel at Johanna, a new sluice and pumping station under the same programme that would enhance drainage significantly. This would eliminate the need for drainage water from Johanna to be drained through the Yakasari drain and through the #43 sluice.
“What we have is not a “bungled drainage infrastructure” at Canal Polder or Black Bush Polder, but a concerted effort to improve what we have and to add to the drainage infrastructure to enhance the capacity for drainage in these polders”, the minister asserted.