Doors of two kokers left open at high tide caused Buxton flooding

Dear Editor,

In an SN letter of Jan. 10, engineer Charles Ceres has opined that the marginalization of the Afro-Guyanese community has had adverse effects on the recent flooding of large sections of Buxton. He was also critical of the technical competency of the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and its division, the National Drainage & Irrigation Authority (NDIA) to deal with the flooding of coastal areas and their seeming bias in allocating drainage pumps to East Demerara communities.

The facts, however, suggest otherwise. According to Deon Abrams, Chairman of the Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC), the recent flooding of sections of Buxton was due to the doors of two kokers being left open at high tide as a consequence of which ocean water entered Buxton’s drainage channels, overflowed the Company Dam and then went over the East Sideline Dam which was breached flooding large sections of the village. Buxton has a pump station with two pumps which apparently were unable to remove the floodwater expeditiously, and therefore the NDIA sent a mobile pump to complement the existing pumps.

Lusignan has no pump station and the one at Pln Enmore is owned and operated by GuySuCo. Buxton has a pump station with two pumps which is managed by the NDC.

In a Flood Management Study (FMS) conducted by engineers from the Netherlands and which was commissioned by the APNU+AFC government, several recommendations were made to deal with flooding of coastal areas, including Georgetown, due to heavy rainfall. Among these were the strategic placement of drainage pumps at several locations.  It is inconceivable that the Netherlands engineers would have used ethnicity as one of the parameters to determine the placement of pumps and their numbers in specific coastal locations to relieve floodwater, as Mr Ceres claims.

Pump size and their numbers for drainage requirement are determined by the volume of water to be removed within a specified time.  Therefore the land area to be drained and rainfall intensity are among the parameters which have to be taken into account for pumps’ selection, which would be based on their output capacity in cubic feet per second at specified differential heads and not on base slab dimensions as stated by Mr Ceres.

The reason for recurring flooding of coastal lowlands due to heavy rainfall is because of poor and lax management by the MoA/NDIA which is responsible for drainage & irrigation (D&I) in declared D&I areas, the M&CC in Georgetown and the NDCs. The Ministry of Public Infrastructure also dabbles with drainage problems, particularly when they impact on the river and sea defences.

The APNU+AFC government has no coordinated strategic plan to deal with the regular flooding of coastal areas. Flooding will continue to be dealt with in an ad hoc manner with the several agencies handling drainage ‘doing their own thing’ with no one responsible for anything, or for that matter, answerable to anyone. Many of the lands on the Essequibo Coast are declared D&I areas with a statutory responsibility on the part of the MoA/NDIA to provide farmers with irrigation when needed and adequate drainage for their lands as is necessary. Do farmers get the service they pay for annually? The evidence suggests not, and as Mr Ceres observed at Buxton,  due to neglect and incompetence by the MoA/NDIA and probably marginalization and lack of a reliable and appropriate response by the APNU+AFC  government to provide the services they pay for in rates and taxes, they are left to the mercy of the weather to grow their crops and protect their homesteads as best as they can.

Yours faithfully,

Charles Sohan

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