NDCs not doing anything for us – flood-affected Corentyne residents

GLDA officers treating animals in the Cookrite Savannah
GLDA officers treating animals in the Cookrite Savannah

As residents of Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) continue to grapple with severe flooding brought on by persistent rainfall and overtopping of the Canje Creek, the Agriculture Ministry said that calls are being made for the regional representatives, more so the various Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) to step up and do their job.

This common complaint was raised with Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha during day two of his regional flood assessment exercise in Region Six.

According to the Agriculture Ministry, Nailini Boodhoo, a resident of No 59 Village, said that the NDC has failed the people.

“The Chairman don’t do anything. Look at the condition of the dam here. Look at this drain. If we can get better drainage or them used to clean the drains we would never get this kinda flooding. The man don’t even come to meet with the people,” Boodhoo said.

Another resident, Bergett McGregor from No 53 Village, also said that the NDC Chairman for her area has also failed to carry out the works needed to maintain the neighbourhood.

“Minister I’ve been waiting to meet with you. This situation is very hard on us and we need help. We appreciate what the Ministry is doing because I know pumps are being brought to the region but if the NDC was doing their job we would be in a better state. The NDC is not doing anything for us.

“Look at the drains. They don’t even clean these drains. We are paying our rates and taxes and we are not getting any help. When you go to the office, it is like you go there to waste time because they do not put any effort into coming and seeing what the people are going through,” McGregor said.

Residents, the Ministry said, also raised issues with the operation of certain structures in their communities. While efforts were being made to drain severely affected areas in Black Bush Polder, residents from other villages along the Coast have been accused of tampering with one of the structures in an attempt to allow the flow of water through their community.

Farmers were also of the opinion that relevant officials failed to engage both parties in a timely manner, which resulted in further conflict.

Mustapha, in response, told residents after conducting a comprehensive regional assessment, several immediate interventions will be implemented within the next 24 hours.
As it relates to the operation of structures in the region, Mustapha told residents that a system has to be in place to ensure water from severely affected areas does not drain into areas that are less affected. He also cautioned residents against tampering with drainage and irrigation structures.

The Minister also told residents that hampers with food items and cleaning supplies would be made available through the Civil Defence Commission. Residents expressed that in the past, only a select few would benefit from the relief. Minister Mustapha asked that villagers identify representatives to work along with the team carrying out the distribution to ensure everyone benefits.

Officers from the Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA) on Sunday distributed feed to affected farmers in some parts of the region.

During his visit to Black Bush Polder on Saturday, President Dr Irfaan Ali said that immediate assistance was needed for animals that have been stranded in the Cookrite Savannah.

Farmers who usually graze their animals there had expressed that there were no other alternative areas in the region for them to house their animals. They appealed to the Head of State to have some feed made available to feed their animals.

GLDA officers also treated a number of animals who would’ve suffered injuries while attempting to seek higher ground.

After the Minister would’ve concluded the exercise, NDIA officials in the region provided an update on the interventions made thus far.

Residents from the No 52-54 area had requested additional infrastructure in the form of additional tubing be made available to assist with draining the area. The NDIA was able to make those materials available. An excavator was also sent to the area to assist with clearing the drains. A mobile pump is currently being installed at Anchor Ville. Meanwhile, two additional pumps have been installed at Whim and Letter Kenny. Two tractor pumps have been deployed to assist with drainage in Eversham and a mini-excavator has been sent to clear blocked internal drains in Bangladesh.

NAREI and GLDA have also commenced their assessment to determine the losses faced by cash crops and livestock farmers in the region. GRDB officers have also commenced preliminary assessments in the region. [Guyana Times]