Mobile pump, excavator deployed to flood-hit Mahaica

Government has deployed a mobile pump and excavator to Mahaica to aid in the draining of farmlands and to carry out dam maintenance in response to the La Nina rains as efforts are made to save a 3,000 acre rice crop.

According to a press release from the Government Information Agency (GINA), Minister within the Ministry of Agriculture Ally Baksh yesterday gave rice farmers of No. 10 Mahaica River and, Handsome Tree, Region Five the assurance that the equipment was being deployed.

Minister Ally Baksh (with dark glasses) meeting farmers yesterday. (GINA photo)

The Minister was accompanied by technical staff from the Ministry, Region Five Chairman, Bindrabhan Bisnauth and Mahaica-Mahaicony-Abary General Manager Rudolph Gajraj.

The press release from GINA said that in the wake of the extreme rainy period, several consultations were held with farmers countrywide, where issues were highlighted and recommendations made by rice, cash crop and livestock farmers.

During visits by Stabroek News to the flood-affected Mahaica and Mahaicony creeks, residents have complained about being neglected by the regional and central government authorities.

This move by government is to ensure that every farmer benefits from interventions, GINA said. It added that the MMA and the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA), will work collaboratively to ensure that water recedes quickly.

Minister Baksh stated that while the administration will continue to implement mechanisms to ensure farmers do not suffer losses as a result of flooding, consultation with the grassroots is necessary, since they are the immediate beneficiaries and would know where interventions are much needed. “We will continue on this approach, since it is the right way and farmers are happy. We will continue to make interventions where necessary, once financing is available,” he said.

Works continuing for the Hope Canal (GINA photo)

He also called for a Water Users Association (WUA), to be established within the area, to better rally for the rights of farmers and to have frequent dialogue with decision makers to the benefit of farmers.

MMA/ADA General Manager, Rudolph Gajraj told those gathered at the Yankee canal, that while the works are necessary, the authority is unable to fulfill every demand, as financing is limited.

The deployment of the equipment will save 3000 acres of rice which will be ready to harvest in two weeks’ time.

The Agriculture Ministry said the quantity of rainfall over February 28 and 29 exceeded the amount expected for the whole of February for most locations. “For example Georgetown averaged 92 mm of rainfall in February, but over the 24 hours, the capital city experienced 129 mm of rain,” GINA said.

Hope Canal

Meanwhile, site engineer for the Hope Canal project Ravi Naraine said that the project is on stream for completion in 2013. He said that works to the parallel canal, a bridge which will link the Conservancy and the eight – door sluice, to the East Demerara Water Conservancy’s Hope Canal project, are progressing smoothly and on schedule for a 2013 completion.

GINA reported that workers are currently installing test piles to the bridge, which will be followed by driving piles along the eastern section. “Works are progressing smoothly despite being affected by the extreme weather condition. The works will at no point be delayed,” Naraine, a former head of the national drainage body, said.

The US$15M Hope Canal project embarked upon by the NDIA in October 2010 is touted as the answer to flooding in the Mahaica/Mahaicony/Abary areas, when completed.

The project has four components; the over 10–kilometre channel from the EDWC, a bridge across the public road, a conservancy head regulator with three gates, and an outfall channel that will comprise eight gates.

The canal is being excavated by the NDIA.  BK International, DIPCON Engineering and Courtney Benn Contracting Services were granted the contracts for the other three components.

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