Flooding on Essequibo Coast threatens rice crop

– sluices and pumps not working

Farmlands on the Essequibo Coast continue to be affected by flooding, the result of persistent rain over the weekend and poor drainage as a few sluices and pumps are not in operation.

The situation is causing much concern for rice farmers on the Essequibo Coast as several acres of young rice plants are covered by water and if it does not drain off soon farmers would suffer losses.

Regional Chairman Devanand Ramdatt yesterday told Stabroek News that they are using all of the manpower and resources available to address the situation. He stated that for the past two weeks a sluice door at Andrews, Essequibo Coast had been down and he had expressed his concern to the Regional Engineer and Regional Executive Officer but did not receive any update as to whether the door was fixed.

A flooded rice field at Lima.

He also added that several main drainage canals were “silted up” resulting in slow drainage of the water. He pointed out that despite clearing the canals prior to the flood they continued to contain silt.

The chairman added that an engineer from the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) was in the region and made recommendations to regional engineers to remedy problems with sluices and pumps.

Areas affected by the flooding are Lima, Windsor Castle, Hampton Court, Sparta, Better Success, Henrietta, Richmond and Evergreen.

Regional Councillor Sham Persaud told Stabroek News that rainfall ceased on Wednesday but should the rain continue rice farmers would suffer tremendously. He said that approximately 2000-3000 acres of young rice plants are under water.

It was explained that in some areas there was no differentiation between the trench and the fields as a result of the excess water on the land.

Persaud explained that a sluice door at Better Success has been faulty and was still to be fixed. Because of this they are unable to open the door at the recommended level for the water to flow out. “The wood on the doors just shaky… It needs to be replaced… We have been asking for the door to be remedied but nothing is being done or if they do it they move slow,” Persaud said referring to the Engineer’s Department of the Regional Democratic Council.

The councillor said that workers from the Drainage and Irrigation Department were “very slow” when orders were given by council. “The workers move carefree we are tired of complaining but nothing is being done,” Persaud said.

Persaud added, “The security system for the pump is corrupt in the sense that we have for some time now have had issues of fuel designated for use on the pump being stolen and resold… A pump attendant lives right next to the pump house when we asked for him to be moved they said that there is a shortage of staff.”

According to Persaud, the pump attendant would at times indicate they are not working. “If these people at the pump work and bring issues to our attention the flooding could have been reduced by now but they are not cooperative.”

Meanwhile, the regional chairman said he had not received any reports of losses as a result of flooding in residential communities. He stated that residential areas suffered minimum flooding.

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