The recent flooding of Georgetown and much of the coastal areas is indicative of how very little the PNC+APNU (coalition) government has done to plan, develop and execute strategies necessary in a coordinated way to prevent the yearly recurring flooding of coastal Guyana which is causing serious economic losses to the country.
There have been several reports advising the government what should be done to prevent flooding of the coastland due to heavy rainfall. Recently the Dutch Risk Reduction (DRR) Team provided a report with recommendations to tackle the drainage of Georgetown and its environs. There is also a report by a committee headed by Major General Joe Singh which submitted recommendations for the drainage of Georgetown, its suburbs and other coastal areas. According to the Deputy Mayor of Georgetown, Sherod Duncan, the reports have been archived awaiting consideration by the M&CC as its members are too busy with the holidays as well as getting the city’s parking meters installed for the start of the new year.
The Minister of Agriculture Noel Holder is responsible under statute for drainage and irrigation (D&I) through the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) in the Declared D&I areas. Unfortunately he appears to be oblivious to the plight of the people living in those areas as they suffer from regular flooding without much being done to address the causes of the problems, and it seems they cannot take the NDIA to task for their losses as is done elsewhere.
Brigadier David Granger, President of Guyana stated in his New Year message to the Guyanese people that, “the Green State [Guyana] this year will become an engine of economic diversification and enhance competitiveness”. He failed, however, to state what his coalition has done since taking office nearly two years ago to grow the economy and create jobs for the many waiting in the corridors. He spoke of the development of renewable sources of electric generation from hydro, solar and wind, but nothing on D&I or proposals to improve the existing countrywide diesel power generation of electricity to prevent the regular black-outs which are hurting economic development. In any case, he should be aware that electricity from renewable sources will take about 5-10 years for financing and development to feed the national grid.
President Granger cannot have the Ministry of Agriculture through its division NDIA, Ministry of Public Infrastructure and the M&CC all dabbling in the drainage problems of coastal areas in one way or another, with no one responsible for anything but lots of blame to throw around. The President has to set up a ministry totally responsible for drainage and irrigation matters in Guyana, as the current hodge-podge system now in place is just not working. National and regional plans have to be prepared, strategies developed and executed on a priority basis to achieve set objectives to prevent coastal areas from the flooding of homesteads and farmlands on a recurrent basis, and not to lay blame on El Niño for failed policies. There should be no broken pumps lying around, inoperable sluice doors, blocked outfall channels or employees sleeping on the job, since the D&I system has to be in readiness at all times to deal with the eventualities relating thereto.