Dear Editor,

Since 2004 I have noticed in your newspaper that you refer to sluices as kokers, and I keep wondering why. If you check The Making of Guyana you will see pictures of sluices and kokers. If you check the internet, you will see that a koker has a self-acting door and you do not need an attendant to open or close it; the sluice on the other hand, has to be opened and closed using a winch (manual).

On the front page of Sunday Stabroek (August 11) you have a picture of a boy making a high dive from the top of sluice; you can see the wire rope that raises and lower the door. On Monday August 12, on page two, here again ‘koker’ is mentioned instead of sluice.

Both structures are used for water regulation; sluice for irrigation and kokers for drainage. Another mistake people make is mixing up sawdust and shavings. Both are products of wood, but people call the shavings sawdust, when the dust is from the saw and the shavings are from the planer.

Yours faithfully,
Mohan Kissoon


Editor’s note

‘Koker’ was a Dutch word for sluice which has survived in this country, although it is not known in the Netherlands nowadays, having been supplanted by the word ‘sluis’. When the British came here the word ‘sluice’ came with them, and often it was used interchangeably with ‘koker’.  In a general sense, however, ‘sluice’ tended to be applied to the larger structures, whatever their function and however they were powered (they do not have to be powered manually).