The long-awaited project to develop Phase Two of the MMA Scheme – the Mahaicony/Abary conservancy dam – to ease flooding in that area and open up new lands is set to commence by mid-year.
Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder told Stabroek News that the project would cost billions of dollars and that even though the entire funding has not been acquired the ministry would still go ahead with the initial process.
He is confident that once the work gets off the ground and they apply to the Inter-American Development Bank or any other agency, the rest of the money would be approved.
According to the minister, the work is badly needed and he saw it necessary to start it this year as it would bring relief to the residents and farmers in those areas.
General Manager of the Mahaica, Mahaicony, Abary-Agricultural Dev-elopment Authority (MMA-ADA), Aubrey Charles in an invited comment, told Stabroek News that the conservancy dam will run across the Mahaicony River and that a sluice would also be built. He said Phase Two is also for the development of the agricultural land between the Abary and Mahaicony rivers to assist with drainage and irrigation.
According to him, the conservancy dam would lead to the watershed between the Mahaica and Mahaicony rivers. He said the project also entails the construction of a main irrigation canal between the Mahaicony and Abary rivers as well as a main canal head regulator, which would control the outflow of water from the conservancy into the main canal.
There would also be the construction of secondary canals that would service agricultural lands. These secondary canals, he said would link to the main canal. Flood embankments would also be constructed along the left bank of the Abary River as well as along the right bank of the Mahaicony River.
The MMA was supposed to be a three-phase scheme but only phase 1, the Abary segment was completed in 1978. Frequent promises have been made over the years about phase two: Abary-Mahaicony and phase three Mahaicony-Mahaica which are costly projects.
Speaking to the media at his ministry’s end-of-year press conference, Minister Holder had said that the conservancy will see the construction of a 4.5-mile main canal and 10-mile dam.
He said too that the proposed dam will extend the current Abary/Berbice conservancy to service agricultural lands between the Abary and Mahaicony rivers.
The Minister had said too that D&I works in Region 5 are mainly executed by the MMA-ADA but the National Drainage & Irrigation Authority (NDIA) would provide supplementary works in the Abary-Mahaica area. It is expected that more agricultural lands would be opened up with the completion of the project.
Meanwhile, the minister told this newspaper that “the whole drainage system relies on three things; the Berbice River, the Abary Creek and the main [drainage] system for the MMA-ADA scheme.
The three lowest villages on the West Berbice are Trafalgar, Union and Tempe and because of the movement of the waves, the outfall channel becomes silted up, resulting in the drainage canals becoming too high thus flooding takes place. He said even though the pumps are operating and the sluices are opened, that is not adequate to take off the water. As such, he said they would be installing groynes so that the silt can build up against the groynes.
He said though that the project would have to go through the Ministry of Public Infrastructure but noted that what is “high on the priority” for his ministry might not be the same for the other ministry. (Shabna Rahman)