Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo and several senior officials from the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) on Wednesday visited a number of flood-affected communities in Region Five. Scores of residents were given the opportunity to voice their concerns to Dr Jagdeo and his team.
The PPP/C team also distributed a quantity of relief items comprising of basic necessities to flood-affected residents living in villages in the Mahaicony area. At Mora Point and Gordon’s Table, the Opposition Leader distributed food items and bottled water.
Residents of those villages as well as those in First Savannah – one mile from Gordon’s Table – complained that the flood situation began in April but could have been avoided if the Mahaica/Mahaicony/Abary-Agricultural Development Authority (MMA-ADA) and the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) had fixed damaged pumps and cleared clogged drains.
One female farmer at Mora’s Point told the Opposition Leader that it was poor drainage that led to the flooding in her area; a situation that has affected her ability to earn a living. She and fellow community members want an “inside dam” to be constructed.
“I lost five to six crops of rice… they have high spots [on dam] but we block water from de landing side; one side dam mek but if yuh mek de inside dam, you could get a free flow,” the farmer explained.
Meanwhile, Jagdeo told the residents that the difficulties they are facing with respect to getting Government’s assistance are not unique to Region Five only, since it seems that the Administration wants to “disrupt” the PPP strongholds.
“The APNU (A Partnership for National Unity) has a plan to disrupt all of the areas that we control – we have seen the worst manifestation in this region… this Government has a policy in relation to agriculture, that is backward and will harm the sectors that produce a significant part of the wealth of this country,” the former President noted.
In response to complaints by residents that Agriculture Minister Noel Holder was reluctant to visit the affected areas, Jagdeo surmised that blame should not fall on the subject Minister alone but the entire Administration.
“This Government has made it clear that agriculture is not high on their agenda… the Minister is aloof but it is not the Minister of Agriculture that can be blamed, we have to blame the Government because he takes his signal from Granger himself [who] has signalled that agriculture doesn’t matter to him (President Granger) too much,” the Opposition Leader further pointed out. This was reference to the declaration that rice is a “private” enterprise for which Government should not get actively involved.
“There are many hardships in the country but they [Government] are living in a dream world, I call it a cocoon, they believe they are doing so well but they don’t see the devastation in people’s lives…they have still managed to survive and look fairly good because they still have a lot of resources that we left. They can find $800 million to clean up Georgetown but they can’t clean a couple of canals here – to spend 10 million, to ensure that people can plant something,” Dr Jagdeo lamented.
He also claimed that even supporters of Government are disappointed.
“This is the attitude of the Government. I have never seen a bunch of incompetent people like this group – even their young supporters are disappointed because they are totally incompetent. They go to Parliament unprepared [and] clueless,” posited the former Head of State.
Regional Vice Chairman Rion Peters said that residents and farmers in communities in addition to Moraikobai should be given assistance. He reasoned that this contributed to the PPP donating of the relief items. Meanwhile, residents and farmers are hopeful that their plight is addressed. The team that visited the area including PPP Member of Parliament Irfaan Ali, former Health Minister Dr Bheri Ramsarran and Regional Chairman Vickchand Ramphal. (Shemuel Fanfare)
(Photos below were taken by INews photographer Carl Croker who accompanied the team to the flood-affected areas yesterday)