Contractors to face penalties for negligence over flooding – AG Chambers

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Drainage and Irrigation contractors, whose negligence leads to flooding, will now face numerous penalties as a new model contract is to be drawn to hold them accountable.

This is as the Attorney General Chambers has started the process to carry out the instructions given by Head of State Dr Irfaan Ali last week.

President Ali had instructed the Attorney General to immediately review all service and maintenance contracts within the sphere of the Government and the entire State structure, in relation to drainage pumps, sluices, kokers and drainage and irrigation, generally, and to enforce any penalty clause against contractors who are in breach of their obligations under these contracts.

“I have also instructed the Attorney General that where such penalty clauses are absent, that these contracts be renegotiated for the purpose of inserting penalty clauses, which can be activated when contractors fail to discharge their duties under such contracts,” the President disclosed last week.

On Monday, the Attorney General along with a team of State Counsel met with Chairman of the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NIDA) Lionel Wordsworth and Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the NDIA Dave Hicks.

During the meeting it was decided that a new model contract will be drawn up to hold contractors accountable for negligence that leads to flooding.

The Attorney General on Monday explained that during the meeting, the relevant contractual documents were examined and the officials from the NDIA were instructed to provide to the AG Chambers a brief of the facts and circumstances surrounding non-working drainage pumps that are subject to be maintained and kept functional under those contracts.

“It was also decided that a new model contract is to be drawn up by the Attorney General which would provide specific terms and conditions relating to contractors defaulting in relation to the maintenance and upkeep of drainage pumps that result in flooding,” the AG said in a statement on Monday evening.

This model contract, he noted, will also provide for liquidated damages and for compensation to be paid when there is breach and negligence on the part of contractors which causes or contributes to flooding.

President Ali’s instructions to the AG came on the heels of him three weeks ago embarking on spontaneous visits to several kokers and sluices in and outside Georgetown during which he found one pump attendant sleeping, the koker doors closed and the pumps off.

This discovery was made during a late-night inspection on May 30, almost 24 hours after heavy rainfall had left many parts of the city flooded. The Head of State discovered that the pumps at Riverview were off, the koker doors were closed, and the worker was asleep. At Lombard Street, the pump there was also not on.

Guyana is currently experiencing torrential rainfall resulting in all 10 administrative regions in the country facing varying levels of unprecedented floods. According to the local Civil Defence Commission (CDC), some 36,083 households are currently being impacted by flooding in more than 300 communities across the country where water is entering homes, affecting livestock and domestic animals as well as leaving farmlands inundated.

In fact, while hinterland and farming regions are the most heavily impacted, persistent rain periodically over the past few weeks has also resulted in sections of the capital city being repeatedly under water. The Hydromet Office has indicated that the inclement weather saw nearly 4 inches of rain in Georgetown on Tuesday last, which was compounded by another 2.5 inches of rainfall Wednesday morning.

As such, the Agriculture Ministry had informed that all sluices were opened at noon on Wednesday to facilitate the drainage of flooded areas. The Ministry noted that the drainage pumps would be in operation during the closure of the sluices during high tides. Further, residents in Georgetown are urged to take the necessary precautions as water levels are currently high in low-lying parts of the city.