Region Two chairman accuses gov’t of slow response to flooding

-NDIA Head disagrees

The Chairman of Region Two, Devanand Ramdatt, yesterday charged that there is a lack of interest and a slow response by the government to flooding in the Pomeroon-Supenaam area but the CEO of the national drainage body has denied this.

A  press release from Ramdatt via the Office of the Leader of the Opposition said  “The regional Democratic Council (RDC) of Region Two is deeply concerned about the general lack of interest and slow response by the Government to address floods in the region.”

The statement said that Ramdatt, the Regional Vice Chairperson and councillors had engaged farmers, residents and staff from the Drainage and Irrigation Department to devise mechanisms in preparation for the rainy season. The statement added that after inspections and meetings with key stakeholders, Ramdatt related his concerns on October 26, 2016, via an email to Region Two Regional Executive Officer (REO), Rupert Hopkinson, in identifying priority drainage and irrigation initiatives that were necessary in preparation for the rainy season.

Devanand Ramdatt
Frederick Flatts

“Unfortunately the REO ignored the email and continued to divert staff, funds and machines from key priority projects to “his” parks and tree planting exercises. In the process failing to adhere to key RDC decisions that were aimed at enhancing the lives of all residents in the region,” the statement said while claiming that the destruction that was caused by the flood could have been prevented since October last year.

Stabroek News tried to contact Hopkinson but was unable to.  The RDC and Hopkinson have had an uneasy relationship. The RDC is controlled by the opposition PPP/C while the REO was appointed by the APNU+AFC administration.

The statement  added that besides a visit from the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) , Frederick Flatts,  “there has been no serious intervention by the government.”

“The RDC is calling on the government to act promptly by collaborating with the RDC to correct weaknesses in the drainage and irrigation system and to bring urgent relief to farmers and residents who suffered,” it said.

Ramdatt listed a series of issues he said that he raised with Minister of Agriculture Noel Holder in an email on January 6th.

These were:

– Extremely high water levels in all Conservancies.

– The Toshao and villagers of Capoey made efforts to place sand bags to prevent further erosion east of the Capoey Lake dam.

– Extremely high water level in the main canal throughout the region.

– Overtopping is occurring in various areas along the main canal, it is recommended that more needs to be done to prevent further overtopping.

– The main canal requires closer monitoring.

– Extremely high water level in the drainage system.

– Across the entire region; several rice cultivations,  crops, livestock, residential areas and the Pomeroon are affected.

– A preliminary assessment is recommended.

– Inspections and field visits by the Civil Defence Commission are recommended.

– Technical and other support are needed as it relates to the functioning of the Dawa sluice at this time.

However, in an invited comment, Flatts told Stabroek News yesterday that the statements by Ramdatt were unbelievable. “I just came back from the Essequibo Coast and I am surprised at such a statement,” he said, while referencing the pump that was commissioned at Lima last year.

With reference to work in the Region, Flatts said that there are at least six pumps currently working along with the other larger pumps. “We have a number of mini excavators and we gave all to the region to control, about five at least and the big ones we control,” he added.

In terms of the floodwater, he related that it has since receded because of the dry weather over the past few days. “We have had a lot of sunshine from since about Thursday and the last time we had rain was on Wednesday but it was a lot of rain and as a consequence there was a lot of flooding,” he said.

Flatts added that out of all of the other flooded areas he chose to spend three days in Region Two to ensure that everything was going according to the plan. “A big pump went down and even the media doesn’t know about it because we went into action fast and got it fixed with the help of the region,” he noted.

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