Residents of Mahaicony and Mahaicony Creek, Region Five have been flooded again and are blaming the East Demerara Water Conservancy (EDWC) as livestock and crop damage mounts.
On a normal day one would be greeted by lush, green fields of rice sparkling for miles on both sides of the road. Yesterday, when Stabroek News visited the Mahaicony area, the rice lands along Branch Road were covered in water and studded with pumps of all sizes, struggling to get rid of the water.
Even though the area saw heavy rainfall during the week, residents are adamant that it is the Maduni sluice at the EDWC that is contributing to the high levels of water. Over the last 15 years, residents have consistently blamed the EDWC for their flood woes.
“The whole place flood and we can’t get to plant rice or do nothing. We at a standstill,” Ramcharran Bholagosien, Manager of the Down Under Riviera Resort, at First Savannah, Mahaicony River, and a rice farmer told Stabroek News. “Me gat like 100 acres to cut and me lose like about 500 bag of paddy,” the businessman further said as he explained that he estimates that he lost over $2M.
“The dams are so bad and when they loose the water, the place does flood out bad. The rain fall but it was not much rainwater to cause that kind of damage. We looking for the government to come and see. They can’t deh in the office and sit down, they gotto come and see for themselves,” Bholagosien said, stating that it is now in the hands of the new government to take action and assist the rice farmers in securing their crops especially during the rainy season. He also said that he would like to be compensated for his loss as no one seems to be addressing the issue and the newly built Hope Canal – meant to drain the EDWC – does not live up to its name and isn’t helping with the issue as the water level is increasing every day. The $3.6b Hope Canal project was only tested recently and discharged water over several days from the EDWC into the Atlantic Ocean.
“We want a Hymac to dig to tie the dam deh,” a rice farmer said, suggesting that the government should assist by providing an excavator to properly dig and improve the current dams.
The farmers who have pumps are forced to have them running day and night in hopes of reducing the amount of water on the land and save what crops they can even as others without are left to count their losses. “It makes no sense. Even if you run your pump all day and all week, you still spending a lot of money and most time you don’t even know if you’ll save anything,” Pradeep Mahadeo, a rice farmer said as he stated that he has already accepted that he has lost about $600,000. He said that he knew from the inception that he could not save anything and lent his water pump to a fellow rice farmer.
Mahadeo said that he does not want the government to compensate him for his loses but would like if they could assist them with improving the dams and draining and irrigation of the area. He said that almost 90% of the other rice farmers who planted in that area have lost their crops.
In some areas the water was three feet deep and cash crop and livestock farmers also suffered losses.
“The government seh they loose the water and all the crop them damage. All me fish pond was flood and now over 1500 of me hassar gone. That was my livelihood. This government a try and this chairman heh every time we get flood he does seh is high tide,” Sewsanker Seedyal of Gordon Table said, as he explained that he had lost over $300,000. Seedyal’s garden which contained banana, plantain, and other small crops was covered in about three feet of water. He also lost small animals that were sick because of the water. The man explained that there aren’t any vets in the area and when animals are sick they have no choice but to let the animals die. He has lost several bags of paddy and other goods and is forced to hoist his belongings above the ground in anticipation of the water rising more.
Seedyal said he isn’t optimistic about the situation and doesn’t expect the water to retreat anytime soon. He said that the water continues to rise every day and will affect him more in the coming days.
“They save a hole and full anotha hole,” he said, as he explained that if the government doesn’t allow the conservancy water to flow out of the Maduni then the flooding wouldn’t be a problem.
The residents of the creek have no access to running water and electricity and are forced to use the creek water and rain water for their everyday activities. The water is now polluted by dead animals. Some of the residents have access to electricity as they had received small solar panels from the previous government.
“All the garden duck and is what I live on. Right now is just me and I lose all me garden that does maintain me”, an elderly woman of Pine Ground, Dhasri Singh, said, as she pointed out that her garden contained various crops such as bora, corilla, ochro, and bhagee that she would use to cook and sometimes sell.
Most of the residents of the area have already accepted that they have lost crops and will continue to lose more as the water refuses to recede.
Additionally, other than the issues of flooding in the area, residents highlighted the poor road that they have to use. “Money pass for the road build and the road only build where the chairman live …. They nah do none fuh we,” Seedyal said, explaining that if the road is improved then the residents of the area will not have to rely so heavily on their boats as a means of transporting their produce.
One rice farmer said that he cannot even traverse the road with his tractor to access his rice fields and has to wait for the mud road to harden.