As a former President of Guyana and Minister of Finance under the PPP government and present leader of the parliamentary opposition, I am sure Mr Bharrat Jagdeo has a deep understanding of the problems facing Guyana owing to the rise in sea level.
As a Champion of the Earth and Guyana patriot, I am sure he has thought about, discussed and formulated policies to alleviate the negative impacts on our sea defences and drainage systems resulting from an average increase of approximately 300mm in mean sea level by 2050. Having built his home next to the sea wall, I am confident that he is sure Guyana has the necessary resources to shore up the existing sea and river defences, as well as greatly extend them to defend against not only the sea level rise by 2050, but the 1000 mm rise predicted by the turn of the century.
Considering only the existing sea and river defences, an average of twelve kilometres needs to be improved annually to counter the adverse impacts of sea level rise by 2050. While unemcumbered and easy to access earthen sea and river dams are being raised at a satisfactory rate, very little effort is being made to address encumbered dams, which of course will take much more time and money to raise. Surely Mr Jagdeo is in a position to share with the public which earthen dams were expected to be replaced with bolder slopes or gabion protection and the approximate annual cost of these improvements.
A 300mm sea level rise will of course negatively impact riverine areas. Not only will river dams have to be raised but they will also need lengthening up river. I expect that Mr Jagdeo was told how many kilometres of lengthening was required? This I would love to know.
And what about communities such as Wakapau and Santa Rosa? Will they be left to fend for themselves like most residents in the Pomeroon? Was a plan formulated to defend the area from the mouth of the Pomeroon River where sea and river defence ends at Point Playa? If so could the Opposition Leader share this plan with us?
A sea level rise will reduce the drainage capacity of our sluices. Mr Jagdeo’s government must have investigated this reduction. I would love to learn what steps were suggested to maintain our present capacity to drain.
The point men in our present government are Ministers David Patterson and Noel Holder. I only hope they have instructed their engineers to continue the work that I trust Mr Jagdeo began.
Finally, I would like to ask that our President, whose task it is to lead us in this battle against the Atlantic, let us know what steps he has taken to build on what may have been planned and passed on by the previous PPP government.