City suspends koker attendant without pay over River View flooding

The koker attendant who was responsible for the flash flooding in River View, Ruimveldt and the surrounding environs was suspended for three weeks without pay, according to Town Clerk Royston King, who said the Georgetown Mayor and City Council (M&CC) is exploring plans to strengthen the management of the sluices.

Speaking to Stabroek News last week, King said that there was a joint meeting between the city’s Finance Committee and the Human Resources Management Committee to discuss the breach of the River View sluice.

He explained that a number of issues came out of the meeting, such as the physical layout of the sluices, the squatting phenomenon that continues to plague needed maintenance, and the performance of the persons who were responsible for maintaining the integrity of the sluices.

“At the end of the meeting, the committees took a joint decision that in some ways the sluice attendant was found negligent and [he] was therefore suspended for a period of three weeks without pay. The other person who was involved, the supervisor, was given a warning letter and the engineer was asked to put certain systems in place with respect to proper records and monitoring of sluices,” King said.

He also pointed out that the point was raised by him at the meeting that the sluices need to be treated as security installations, since they keep vulnerable communities safe and, therefore, moving forward the city needs broaden the scope of the management team that overlooks the everyday administration of the sluices.

He said he suggested that the City Constabulary play a role in making patrols and checks, especially during the nights, to ensure that all staff are stationed at the sluices and that they are working properly.

“They should also have early warning signs so that in the event there is a human error, people will be alerted and communities will be saved,” he said.

On October 4, residents of River View woke to their homes and yards inundated after the koker attendant failed to close the door at the stipulated time. As a result, the door was left open for hours until the tide dropped, which resulted in large parts of the community, Alexander Village and parts of West Ruimveldt being flooded.

Because the flood was sudden, residents were caught off guard and many reported suffering damages as a result.

Since the flooding was not as a result of rainfall, the residents had explained that they were holding the city responsible and were seeking compensation for damage suffered.

With respect to compensation, King related that the M&CC is still desirous of meeting with all the persons that were affected by the flood and who incurred damage. “…We will meet to hold discussions and again I would like to apologise on behalf of council for the inconvenience caused by the breach. It should not have happened and we appreciate the people’s patience and understanding,” he said, while highlighting that the matter still has to be discussed at a council level to see what more assistance it can offer the River View residents.

The residents explained that while they were not optimistic about the city giving them any monetary compensation for their loss, they would accept whatever assistance is offered.

Some of the residents related that they now face a bleak Christmas, since they had to put themselves in debt to “get back on their feet” after the flood. “I had to borrow money and buy back a fridge. My children school clothes and books all get wet and I had to get them back. The whole carpet was damaged and all sorts of other things. So of course we would welcome lil assistance but we know we not getting anything,” one resident said.

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