Officials from the Civil Defence Commission (CDC), National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) and Region Three, visited Canal No. 1 on Thursday and begun delivering assistance to some 200 families, whose homes and farmlands were extremely affected by the recent heavy rainfall.
According to the Department of Public Information (DPI), Director General Acting, Civil Defence Commission (CDC), Major Kester Craig, who visited the homes of several residents, said that CDC is currently mobilising sanitation supplies to be distributed to the most affected persons.
Speaking to the DPI, Major Craig, explained that “we will continue to be in contact with the people of Canal. We will first work in the most affected area, which is more down to the back in the canal to ensure that there are sanitation items such as bleach, jeyes fluid, soap, soap powder etc. So, basically, we will be monitoring it all the time and continue to give our support to this area.”
Major Craig noted that the Minister of Health has been alerted about the situation and has promised to mobilise a team to visit the area and ascertain what assistance can be given to the people. He noted that “critical is information on how they can use safe water and what action they can take to reduce water-borne diseases.”
At the moment, NDIA, the Canals Polder Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) and the Water Users Association are working in collaboration with GAICO construction to clear and desilt drains and canals to ensure the water recedes in the shortest possible time.
NDIA’s Engineer, Lall Piterahdaue, explained to the DPI that there is a 21-man labour force within the channel, conducting “manual pulling” of the mass that has built up in the canal. Also, two tractors were employed to deal with the mechanical pulling of the mass in that area that is difficult to reach.
Piterahdaue noted that with the intense rain, the release of water is required at the critical area, to ensure there is no further threat.
NDC Chairman Dhanraj Bipath said that due to the interventions, the water is receding, albeit slowly. “We have seen little improvement, but because of the overnight rain, when you get up the next morning the entire place is flooded…We have to clear upfront before the back get a release because the entire area has to be released village by village and it will be on a first come first serve bases, those at the first will release faster and the back will take a bit more time,” he explained.
On each side of the main canal, there is one mile stretch of farmland that has to drain into the channel. Since it is an agricultural area, fertilizer gets in and the mass grows quickly.
Bipath said that at the NDC level, support was provided to ensure that the mass built up at the pump is cleared. However, he said that there is a problem getting the water to the pump through the main drainage canal because while the water is low at the front, there is a huge built up at the back.
According to the DPI, all three sluices are fully functioning, along with two additional pumps that are discharging into the Demerara River.