There is an absence of technical competence in the Ministry of Agriculture and NDIA

Dear Editor,

The picture of a flooded Buxton in the Guyana Chronicle of Sunday January 8, is confirmation of the absence of technical competence within both the Ministry of Agriculture and more particularly within the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA). Everyone in Guyana 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.

The Ministry of Agriculture through the NDIA proposes under the Flood Risk Management Project to construct pump stations at Lusignan, Enmore and Buxton on the East Coast Demerara. There were no areas, currently flooded, within either Lusignan and/or Enmore at the exact time that Buxton remains under water. 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. A summary of the pump station sizes and number of pumps to be installed, taken from NDIA public domain documents, is detailed in the table below.

Lusignan and Enmore, both not currently flooded or known to be flood prone, will be provided with twice the pumping capacity in the form of two pumps, as compared to one pump for Buxton which is now flooded and established to be flood prone. This coupled with several other flawed designs by the NDIA is evidence of the absence of engineering and technical capacity within both the Ministry of Agriculture and NDIA.

The more alarming concern however is the continued inability of the APNU+AFC coalition government to acknowledge that changes are mandatory at the Ministry of Agriculture and the NDIA if this entity is to provide sound technical advice and service to the people of Guyana. This ill-conceived and technically indefensible solution to the drainage problem of Buxton, proposed by the NDIA, has been personally brought to the attention of several senior members of the APNU+AFC coalition. These individuals are still to request that the NDIA design be altered to reflect the situational realities.

The NDIA and Ministry of Agriculture will continue their reign of unbridled incompetence if not reined in by the powers that be.

This unbridled incompetence is reflected in the inability of drainage infrastructure to satisfactorily respond to rainfall, and impacts on the development costs of the country since resources must be expended to correct flaws in projects executed by the NDIA, such as the failed approaches to the Hope Bridge.

The powers that be must now mandate the NDIA to detail the engineering basis for providing twice the drainage capacity to Lusignan and Enmore, areas not currently flooded, as that provided to Buxton which is now flooded. Failure to so mandate, will demonstrate the inability of the APNU+AFC government to rein in the excesses of the Bharrat Jagdeo led PPP government and to begin the steps necessary to reverse the marginalization of the African Guyanese communities.

Yours faithfully,

Charles P Ceres

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