Eyewitness: Surveying…


…the flood damage

We’re informed by our meteorological mavens that the rains will continue through this month and into August. But in the meantime we just received a briefing from the “Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency” (CDEMA) which –- in collaboration with Guyana’s Civil Defence Commission (CDC) – had conducted an on-the-ground survey of the “damage” wrought on our long-suffering country from the floods. All of this while we’re dealing with the PNC-inspired threats and the COVID-19 pandemic!

This is enough to make your Eyewitness wonder whether we’re being tested by the Big Fella up in the SKY. As if we didn’t pay for whatever sins we might’ve committed as a people through the 28 years of suffering and misery we endured under Burnham and his PNC dictatorship. And this suffering – let’s not forget – fell on all and sundry, regardless of political affiliation. Excepting, of course, the “big ones” around the Kabaka.

But back to the flood damage report from the Caribbean experts. What was released wasn’t very helpful – – basically just a bunch of generalities. Farms and livestock were damaged and cost of farm products have risen. “Water and sanitation issues”. Lives have been disrupted and it is suggested that there be some relocation of some households and farms – presumably to higher ground. The CDC, in the meantime, offered that since May 18 over 51,000 households in more than 300 communities across all 10 administrative regions of the country have been affected by the floods. With our average household around four persons, we’re talking about 204,000 persons inundated by the floods – more than one-quarter of our entire population!!

This is a tragedy of immense proportions and we need more than platitudes. What we need is a plan – with short, medium and longer term timelines. We can work backwards from the long-term move to create a city up the Linden Highway as suggested by President Ali. Medium term, some of our farmers should be facilitated to mega-farming the intermediate savannahs with crops like soya and sweet corn. This idea has been floated for decades, but the weak link has always been the lack of real farmers – folks who’re used to getting mud squelching between their toes. We now have them from the flooded coast.

Then, of course, there’s the immediate tragedy of the 51,000 households that isn’t going to disappear with the continuing deluge. We’ve got to get away from the more or less symbolic hamper-handouts and institute an income-transfer scheme to the affected households where they can take care of their own needs. This will also pump money into the economy in a virtuous cycle.
Finally, compensate the families for their losses and institute crop insurance.

…the rape of Guyana

Some might’ve thought that your Eyewitness was a tad too cynical when he suggested with the PNC, “if it’s another day, it’s another scam”! They were back in office after their 28-year rigged rule for another five years between 2015 and 2020. But the revelations of their kleptomania during this short time are coming so fast and furious, your Eyewitness might have to carry a “PNC scam du jour” section going forward!

Consider what showed up in his newsfeed this morning. That a rusting hulk of a Skyvan – a propeller-driven bulk plane not manufactured for almost half-a-century – just showed up at a city wharf. With no one having the foggiest notion of who ordered it. But it’s suspected that it’s the tail end of a PNC scam that played out back in 2018. Two other Skyvan hulks had been bought for the princely sum of $484.2 million – over the protests of the PPP!
Is the hulk at the wharf for cannibalising for parts?

…karma operating

It’s said that “payback’s a bitch!” During their last five years at the helm, the PNC rushed through a draconian “Cybercrime bill” intended to gag criticism.
They’re now squealing that one PNC ex-Minister was just charged under it!!