NDIA working to clear drains across Berbice as flood warning issued

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Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha interacting with residents during one of the meetings in Berbice on Saturday
With the Hydromet Office issuing a flood warning for Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne), the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) will be conducting works to unclog drains in Port Mourant and other communities along the Corentyne Coast.
This assurance was given by Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha on Saturday when he met with residents at Port Mourant. He said government, through the NDIA which falls under his ministry, is working to mitigate flooding across the Berbice Coast.
With Guyana stepping into the May/June rainy period, Minister Mustapha along with a

team from the ministry met with residents to listen to the issues affecting them.

According to a report from the Department of Public Information (DPI), Minister Mustapha informed the residents that based on data gathered by the Hydromet Department, this year’s rainy period will have conditions similar to that of 2021.

He disclosed that the ministry has been working with the various regional bodies to put
systems in place to avoid a repeat of what took place last year.

“Right now we are experiencing a very high intensity of rainfall. I’ve received reports
that the internal drains are clogged up. Even if we clear the main canals, if the internal
drains are clogged up the water will not drain. I will ask our engineers to organize and
send a small team back to the area to look at the drainage issues. I will also assign a
small machine to clean all the drains as soon as the recommendations from the
engineers,” the minister said.

Residents who turned out to the meeting at Ankerville told the minister that they see the
efforts being made at the level of the Central Government to improve the lives of the
citizens and called on the Neighborhood Democratic Councils to step up and play their
part.

Works being done on Saturday to clear the outfall at Kilmarnock Village, Corentyne

The residents also complained that when reports are made to the NDC, no action is
taken and that the persons who were appointed councilors have not been working in the
best interest of those residing in the community.

Minister Mustapha explained that the government was aware that there were issues
with many NDCs and that they are committed to assisting as many of these bodies,
which do not have the resources to function because many persons have not been paying
their rates and taxes. However, the minister maintained that this should not stop the
NDC from performing its functions, adding that the Central Government will assist with
works in the communities.

“Both the President and the Vice President have been imploring this, since the inception
of NDCs; that those councilors should go out into the communities and meet with the
people. We know that revenue collection remains an issue for the NDCs but that doesn’t
mean that Central Government wouldn’t act. We will try as much as possible to assist
with community issues. You also complained about your streets. When the President and Vice President were here they said that these small internal streets would be done.
The Ministry of Public Works is now doing force account whereby the Public Works
team is doing the work themselves. All these small alleyways and parapets are being
done in concrete asphalt. That programme has already commenced in the 52-74 area”
the minister said.

Residents also complained about being attacked by bees in the area. They informed the
minister that there are many vacant lots in the area with overgrown bushes that have
become a haven for bees.

While addressing this concern, Minister Mustapha noted that similar cases are being
reported across the country. He told the residents that the vacant lots are often owned
by persons residing overseas and that the Guyana Livestock Development Authority
(GLDA) has been working to address the issue. He said that the Ministry of Local
Government and Regional Development was working to ensure these areas were clear of
garbage and old machinery because bees tend to develop hives in these environments.
Residents also raised issues about the ongoing flood-relief programme and told the
minister that many persons are still awaiting relief.

Minister Mustapha assured that many persons from the region are still on the list to
receive assistance and that his ministry was working with the Ministry of Finance to
complete the distribution of funds soon. While acknowledging that there were issues
with the distribution process, Minister Mustapha said that action has been taken against
persons who were found guilty of colluding with residents to defraud the government.
He also assured residents that, once they suffered losses they will receive assistance
from the government.

Meetings were also held in Bound Yard, Area ‘R’, and Miss Phoebe where residents raised
similar concerns. Minister Mustapha assured those in attendance that the ministry
would work with the regional officials to have these issues and concerns addressed as
soon as possible.

Meanwhile, in addition to Region Six, the Hydromet Department also put out a flood warning for Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice).
It said on Saturday that “cloudy to overcast skies with continuous moderate to heavy rain and thundershowers” is being observed in the two regions. [Extracted and Modified from DPI]