Minister of Agriculture Noel Holder announced yesterday that Buxton will be getting three additional pumps to help the community fight flooding.
The Minister’s announcement via GINA came a day after engineer Charles Ceres complained in a letter to Stabroek News that the village was only getting one pump whereas villages less affected by flooding were getting more pumps.
Stabroek News had reported on Monday that several areas in the East Coast Demerara community of Buxton were inundated following heavy rainfall coupled with a breach in one of the dams. The community had suffered for more than a week and it wasn’t until the breach in the dam was fixed that the water started to retreat.
Prior to that, the area had endured a much worse flood in 2015. The floodwater took several weeks to recede from the land even after the authorities had set up pumps.
The press statement from the Government Information Agency (GINA) yesterday said that senior officials from the Ministry of Agriculture gave the assurance that the village will benefit from the construction of two pump stations that will be equipped with three pumps. It made no mention of Ceres’ letter.
The GINA statement reported Holder as saying that “The Buxton area, will be getting three pumps, one of which I think will be a World Bank or IDB loan and will be at Hope/Enmore, one at Lusignan, one at Buxton but then there is another set of pumps, we will be putting two in the Buxton area. So Buxton will get three pumps rather than one.”
According to the statement, CEO of the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) Frederick Flatts said that the flooding in Buxton has remained a major issue for residents for a number of years and the Flood Risk Management Programme will be responsible for the construction of one pump stations while the NDIA will be responsible for the construction of the other.
In a letter in yesterday’s Stabroek News, Ceres had said that according to public documents, the NDIA was going to build three pump stations in Lusignan, Enmore, and Buxton. For the Lusignan and Enmore stations there would be two pumps while for the Buxton station there was going to be one. Ceres expressed dismay at this.
“Everyone is aware of the fact that Buxton was the last community to become flood free after the Great Flood of 2005. Both the NDIA and the Ministry of Agriculture are further aware and refer to Buxton as being situated in a “basin”. In spite of these facts the NDIA and Ministry of Agriculture continue to treat this as a non-issue for a reliable and appropriate response,” he said.
“In spite of this, the NDIA and the ‘wise men’ within the Ministry of Agriculture see it fit to build pump stations in Enmore and Lusignan which will provide twice the capacity of the pump station in Buxton.” he added, while pointing out that even though the specifications of the three pump stations are the same, only one pump is slated to be stationed at Buxton.
In yesterday’s GINA statement, Flatts said that the NDIA pump station planned for Buxton is “designed to have two 100 cusec pumping units so that’s two pumps. In addition to that, another is to be constructed by the Flood Risk Management Programme that will be placed at the boundary between Vigilance and Friendship, so Buxton would actually have three pumping units unlike what some other persons are guessing,” the statement quoted Flatts as saying.
Speaking about the things that have been done so far in Buxton, Flatts related that within the last quarter of 2016 the NDIA cleaned “three or four channels” from the front going to “about halfway to the back.” He said that once the channels are cleaned the water from the back comes down very quickly.
He also pointed out that there was a breach at the Middle Walk Canal door in Buxton which allowed water to seep into the drainage system and affect residents.
“In addition to that there is a programme, a programme called RAID, Rural Agriculture Infrastructure Develop-ment Programme (in) which all the drains in the Buxton area will be excavated and dams will be built, it will even be helping the farmers to clear some of the land to plough the land so there is a lot that will be done for Buxton in 2017,” Flatts said.
The statement added that Holder also noted that the NDIA would be working “without bias to ensure that all areas along the East Coast are attended to” in order to prevent future occurrences of flooding. “Now …certain villages, in our opinion, the opinion of the (APNU+AFC) Coalition, were marginalized by the previous administration and Region Four suffered very heavily during that period and villages like Mocha, villages like Buxton and Region Five, villages like Ithaca,” Holder added.