Government should provide assistance to Canal No 1 residents affected by flooding

Dear Editor,

The Region Three Chamber of Commerce and Industry would like to draw attention to the failure of the authorities to act responsibly, as a result of which Canal No1 was flooded. This began on December 24, 2017, and to date members of the community are still affected by the water.

Members of the Chamber visited the community and we noted three salient issues that must also be known to the authorities: firstly, Canal No1 is known for flooding, due to the inadequacy of the main canals and the lack of alternative arteries for the water to flow off the land. Secondly, the surrounding communities, namely Canal No 2 and Parfaite Harmonie also have poorly maintained drainage. Thirdly, Canal No1 is a subsistence community, largely dependent on farming, where a large portion of residents either operate farms or are employed on farms.

Residents lamented the fact that this recent flood is the third occasion on which their community has experienced flooding in 2017, due largely to poor maintenance of the drainage canal.

We have been informed that the factors that contributed to the flooding in Canal No 1, were largely due to negligence on the part of the authorities responsible. It was highlighted that the main drain in Canal No1 requires clearing at least twice per month; however, it was only cleared once in December. In addition the trenches in Parfaite Harmonie have not been cleared for the better part of 2017, and water from Parfaite, which usually flows through Goed Fortuin, was diverted to Canal No 1 earlier in the year, since this may have been perceived as an easier alternative to clearing Parfaite’s trenches.

Why were the drains in Canal No1 only cleaned once in December, even though we are aware that December comes with rain? We were informed that the contractor who was hired to maintain the drainage canal in Canal No1 had not been paid since June 2017, hence he refused to provide additional services in December. Now, how could the relevant authorities be so lacklustre as to allow their indebtedness to a contractor to accumulate for 5 months and ultimately cause the discontinuation of a vital service? Negligence!

Why is the second largest housing scheme in Region 3, Parfaite Har-monie, without adequate drainage and other requisite infrastructure? The NDC claims that the Central Housing and Planning Authority have not properly handed over the community and therefore responsibility for its maintenance is being passed around. So Parfaite was left with clogged up drains unable to flow through its intended arteries in Goed Fortuin, and then what can now be considered a mistake,  there was a decision to divert Parfaite’s water to Canal No 1 in order to the ease any possible flooding. That decision added to the woes of residents in Canal No 1, although it was not the major contributing factor, which according to the engineer was higher than anticipated rainfall and a lack of adequate drainage for such. The drains in Parfaite were only cleared on Sunday in a reactive response to a crisis in Canal No 1. This alleviated a situation which could have been avoided with proper maintenance.

Certainly, no one can fault the authorities for the level of rainfall; however maintenance of infrastructure is within their ambit, and there shouldn’t be confusion over which is the agency accountable. Additionally it is expected that during resource allocations responsibility for execution is clearly defined, and therefore an inability to provide payment for works undertaken over a period of five months is indefensible.

What is left of the livelihoods of those residents can only be evaluated after the water has receded. For some their entire crops were destroyed, with pineapple fields submerged in water; others have opened their dwellings to accommodate what remains of their livestock. Residents are using old refrigerators as a means of transport to facilitate movement from home to the access road. It is the earnest opinion of our Chamber that the economic impact on those residents should be addressed by government, since relevant assistance is required to replace their losses and allow them to rebuild their livelihoods.

Yours faithfully,

Dennis Mayers

General Secretary

Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Region Three

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