[www.inewsguyana.com] – Phase One of the city drainage rehabilitation works has concluded. Works started almost immediately after the coalition government came into office and coincided with the seasonal May-June rains.
Stakeholders were recently briefed on the works undertaken; the meeting, which was convened by Chief Engineer of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Walter Willis saw the participation of several stakeholders.
The invited agencies were Georgetown Chamber of Commerce (GCCI), the Mayor and City Council, the Ministry of Communities, the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) and the Private Sector Commission (PSC).
The city drainage rehabilitation works were undertaken to bring relief to the many citizens who were affected by floods resulting from the 2015 May/June rains which saw several areas in Georgetown and its environs being inundated for almost three days.
“It showed the extent which the system has and had deteriorated over the years in the length of time it took for us to drain the water off the land… It took three days and, even after that there were still some isolated areas that suffered longer period of inundation,” Willis said.
Willis recalled that at the onset, Minister Patterson had summoned a meeting where a taskforce was set up to immediately start emergency works. The taskforce was mandated to look carefully at the drainage system and to identify the critical areas for rehabilitation.
According to Willis, a sum of $75M was provided for the programme that catered for the desilting of outfalls, drains and inlet channels and sluices. He said, eleven contracts were awarded out of which, nine have been completed, one suspended and one ongoing.
“The Meadow Bank sluice that is owned and operated by Vieira, we had to suspend the desilting of that outfall channel due to the collapsing of an old revetment. If we had continued, the revetment would have collapsed and the high tide would have flooded Meadow Bank,” the Chief Engineer stated.
He added that, of the 79 kilometres of main drains leading from Cummings Lodge to Agricola, 33.2 kilometers were desilted. These drains lead to 13 sluices that drain the city. Most of the work was done using NDIA equipment through a collaborative effort.
According to Willis, one of the major challenges was the occupation of the reserves. “The reserves are occupied in various ways, with derelict vehicles, vending and people living on the reserves. This matter has been raised with the Minister and his colleagues and we are looking to address it sometime in 2016,” he stated.
Public Infrastructure Minister, David Patterson in remarks to the meeting, explained that a substantial amount of work remains to be done and it is in this regard the private sector and other stakeholders are being asked to join the effort.
Patterson lauded the initiative of the residents of Subryanville, Georgetown, where they raised approximately $1.5M among themselves to assist in the restoration effort. He is urging other communities and residents to follow suit.
The Public Infrastructure Minister then proposed that a formal presentation be held with the private sector bodies and all other stakeholders to specifically identify the needs for the successful completion of the project. The minister assured the meeting that his ministry would ensure the presentation is done as there is a great urgency to complete the desilting and clearing process. [Extracted and modified from GINA]