The flooding continues in Mahaica despite the money spent

Dear Editor,

Certain things are more evident than others, since we can see them clearly, but there are those things which we cannot see, eg, expensive contracts to do work below water such as at Nos 1&2 Canals Polder and the East Demerara Water Conservancy (EDWC). In Kaieteur News of February 20, there is a story captioned ‘Bridge built a month ago collapses.’ The story tells us that a heavy duty bridge built in Region 6, according to Mr Hazrat Hussein of the RDC, has collapsed within a month of being built. He blames the central government, the regional administration and the contractor for the substandard work leading to the collapse, more specifically the lack of supervision by regional engineers, work not done to specifications and the use of substandard materials by the contractor. Mr Hussein also alleges that millions of dollars are spent on projects within his region with little or no supervision by the region and central government. He cites as an example the multi-million revetment at Lonsdale which collapsed shortly after being built. The public must also be  aware of other disastrous failures over the past months/years involving  bridges, roads and wharves, etc, which have collapsed within months/weeks of being constructed.

In Stabroek News of February 20 there is a letter from Dr Ramsammy, now Minister of Agriculture, in which he condemns what he regards as public mischief by the SN after they published an article, a letter and an editorial between February 13 and 14 relating to the Hope[less] canal and the EDWC.

In his letter Dr Ramsammy regurgitates a litany of expensive works which have been done since 2005 to protect the East Coast residents from the EDWC, but he conveniently forgets to mention the millions which were paid to BK International to build up a part of the EDWC dam which subsequently led to its failure in the vicinity of Cane Grove. His government refused to accept the blame for this and it required millions of our taxes to fix. The findings of the commission into the failure of the EDWC dam while BK worked on it is there as evidence.

The point I am making is that while we can actually see some infrastructure falling apart before our very eyes, we do not know the situation with those projects which are not visible, and most of the works referred to by Dr Ramsammy were done below the level of the water. In addition, as if circumstances had conspired against him, he detailed at some length the expensive projects which were undertaken to relieve the water level of the conservancy during high rainfall including “the rehabilitation of the Cunha relief channel [and] the construction of a revetment at Cunha,” among other things.

Paradoxically in the same issue of the SN there is a blurb on the front page, “Rehabilitation of Cunha Canal to be funded through Guyana’s forest partnership with Norway.” In reading the article, it is reported that the project will cost US$1.91 million, and only then will the Cunha be able to increase the real time drainage capacity of the conservancy by 30%. After all of the money we spent in this country since 2005, after all of the damage our poor farmers in Mahaica and Mahaicony suffered since then, we are only now being told that if the government gets US$1.9 million from the Norway funds then the water conservancy’s capacity to relieve the high levels of flooding on the East Coast will be improved by 30% through Cunha alone.

As far as the water level of the Mahaica area is concerned Dr Roopnaraine and I took a quiet visit to the area on Sunday, February 19. The entire Mahaica area is still under at least 12-18 inches of water. It was higher when they opened the Maduni sluice nearly two weeks ago, perhaps 2.5 ft, and even though there was not much rain in the previous 5-6 days prior to our visit, the water is still high showing clearly that the Mahaica River is not draining because the mouth is blocked up. Some engineers say this has been done deliberately by some person who is dumping paddy shells into it on top of the natural siltation.

But we must be reassured that having spent billions of our taxes doing the work identified in Dr Ramsammy’s letter in SN, it must have been Dr Roopnaraine and my imagination that the farmers in the 1500 acre area we visited in Mahaica, were fighting a losing battle attempting to pump the water of the Mahaica River out of their rice fields. They are lucky since rice has a high tolerance for water, but almost all the other crops have perished there.

When will Robert Persaud and now Dr Ramsammy stop this insult to our intelligence? Something is terribly wrong; the entire place is flooded for weeks after two to three days of heavy rainfall, and now, in 2012, we can see the people in the newspapers and on the TV newscasts standing in their yards knee-deep in water. Since 2005 government officials just keep telling us how much of our taxes they have spent on this and that project, but obviously what they have done with all of that money has not worked, since the flooding continues.

Yours faithfully,
Tony Vieira