Black Bush Polder: From drought to flood

-No. 43 koker silted up

By David Papannah

Residents of Black Bush Polder were “punishing” for water for their rice crop due to a broken pump but with the rainy season on they were yesterday flooded because of mud blocking a key koker.

The farmers told Stabroek News, “We did not get that kind of rain to cause so much flooding.”

According to them, the outlet at No 43 Village which drains the Johanna and Yakusari areas was silted up and the water had “nowhere to go.” This koker has given problems before. Residents yesterday lamented that government had enough time in the dry season to clear silt “but they wait until the rain come to start… We always get six months saltwater and six months flood.”

Rice farmer, Lionel Soman told Stabroek News  he had prepared his land and was about to plant his seed paddy when the rains came.

One of the flooded areas in Black Bush yesterday (Photo by David Papannah)

He was glad that he did not end up sowing because “last crop I lost 30 acres of rice because the same koker was silt up.”

Soman said too that his daughter, whose husband works as a labourer, planted bora and peppers and that the crop was “under water.”

When Stabroek News visited the area yesterday, it was observed that some of the dams were taken over by knee-high water.

Another farmer, Raymond Joseph said he lost about $1M because the water has been on his rice land for over one week. He said government needs to “do more for the people of Black Bush” and feels that they have been neglected.

Suresh Persaud told this newspaper that his rice and cash crop farm “duck out and the water is not moving. This problem has been around for a long time…”

According to M. Gaffoor the drainage system is not effective because when he pumps the water out it goes back into his farm from another drain.

In the case of cash crop farmer, Mohamed Khan, the water destroyed his produce that he was supposed to reap and he lost over $300,000.

He said he installed a small pump in a desperate effort to save the crop but it was not adequate to drain the water.

Contacted, Regional Chairman, David Armogan told this newspaper that the National Drainage & Irrigation Authority (NDIA) had awarded a contract and that the desilting of the outlet would start today.

Koker silted up: A section of one of the Black Bush Polder dams flooded yesterday as a result of a silted up koker.

He said the “major outfalls don’t come under the region but the NDIA” and procedures have to be followed before any work is done.

He explained that the siltation itself was caused by the dry season and that other outlets have also been blocked up for the same reason.

The chairman said too that the clearing of the koker could not have been done because “there was no water in the system to flush out the mud… Even if we had dug it three weeks before the rains came, it would have silted up again.”

Meanwhile, farmers said the pound at Yakusari has not been operating for the past six months and that cows have been damaging the crops.

They said the pound is in a deplorable condition and the pound-keeper walked off the job because he would get into trouble whenever the cows escape.

A farmer said the authorities broke down an old government house close to the pound and used the materials to rebuild the pound. However, the building which allegedly cost over $5M  has already deteriorated.

The farmer said he fenced his yard for less than $300,000 at the same time that the repairs to the pound were done and his fence is up to standard. (Additional reporting by Shabna Ullah)

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