In light of the recent overtopping caused by abnormally high tides, the topic of relocating Guyana’s coastal populace to higher grounds has reignited but Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo said it is unrealistic to do so now and instead, it will have to be done gradually.
“It’s unrealistic to expect people to move [now]. So I see the move as a gradual one, people going to high ground but we can’t give up our productive assets on the coast. We have to defend them and we can defend them if we work smart and find smart solutions,” he contended.
According to Jagdeo at his recent press conference, a lot of the country’s infrastructure and fertile lands are along its coastline.
“Over time that could happen. We can’t pick ourselves up and go and that is why, in Georgetown, you need to focus on better drainage,” he posited.
Jagdeo, a former President, pointed out that concrete drains need to be built across the country, particularly in the capital city. He suggested that revenues from the impending oil and gas sector can be used to do this.
“That’s what we have to do, concrete drains in the city so you can clean the drains quickly, you can have better management of water, more pumping capability,” he noted.
The Opposition Leader went on to give an example, saying that South Georgetown always floods so the level of the road there needs to be raised and concrete drains built.
Another area he said needs to be looked at is better pumping systems in farming communities so that water can be better managed. Holland, he added, did that for centuries.
The Opposition Leader said that should his party – People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) – win the upcoming General and Regional Elections in March next year then they will build infrastructures to develop those higher locations so that people will want to move from the coast.
“[We will build a] four-lane road going to the [Soesdyke-Linden] Highway that brings you down from the Highway into Georgetown in 20 minutes because you don’t have houses along the highway, you have feeder roads coming in. That will allow people to go and live up the highway because if they have good water, school and they can get into the city in 20 minutes to work and they can drive in, then they will move up naturally,” he asserted.
Furthermore, with climate change already affecting several things such as rain pattern and sea levels and also stretching traditional infrastructure, Jagdeo said Guyana needs to prepare for this.
The former President had won the United Nation’s Champion of the Earth Award back in 2010 for his role in preserving the forest to combat climate change. He had initiated the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) which saw Guyana being paid for preserving its forests.
To this end, Jagdeo explained that part of their plan is to expand the LCDS initiative by using the resources earned from the sale of forest carbon to do a number of things. Among those is to build climate-resilient infrastructure.
Pointing to the Hope Canal, Jagdeo said that the infrastructure which is located along the upper East Coast of Demerara is an excellent option for flood control and/or water management.