We need pumps to drain flood water – President Ali

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– says Guyana has adequate supply of food, other necessities 

President Dr Irfaan Ali

President Dr Irfaan Ali has refuted reports coming out of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago that Guyana has refused to accept items from that country to aid its local flood relief efforts.

In fact, the Head of State has explained, Guyana made a specific request to the Trinidadian Government for water pumps, which he says are much more needed at this point in time.

“It’s not true [that we refused to accept their flood relief]. We told them that we’re interested in help with pumps to drain the floodwater off the land. We’re in dire need of pumps,” President Ali told this publication when contacted on Friday for a comment on the issue.

The Head of State pointed out that Guyana currently has adequate food and other necessities to supply flood-affected residents, and he questioned the rationale for accepting these items when there are others places, like neighbouring Suriname, which are also facing a flood crisis and are in need of such assistance.

“Suriname needs help too, and Guyana does not want to cry wolf. We wanted, and still need, help with the pumps,” the Guyanese leader contended.

Further, he noted that while Guyana has asked Trinidad for assistance only with pumps, he is confident that the twin-island nation’s assistance would be forthcoming. But, at the same time, Government is also exploring options to ensure it gets the pumps needed.

“They asked for the specifications for the pumps and we sent those specifications. So, we are now waiting for them to respond… If they have the pumps, we told them that we’re even willing to rent or buy. But we’re also looking at other partners and agencies, because the pumps are critical not only now to get the water off the lands, but will also be critical in the future – disposable pumps,” President Ali contended.

Foreign Affairs Minister Hugh Todd has informed his Trinidadian counterpart of the specifications of the pumps required by Guyana.

Flooding in Region 9, Guyana

This publication understands that Trinidad has been asked to assist with three diesel-powered, hydraulically-driven axial flow mobile pumps with a minimum total dynamic head of 20 feet, with capacities of 40 cubic feet per second (cfps) to drain over 17,000 gallons of water; 80 cfps to drain over 35,000 gallons, and 120 cfps to drain 53,000 gallons of water.

The Trinidad Guardian on Friday reported that the T&T Government had put together the relief items based on the list Guyana provided to the Caricom Secretariat, but was subsequently informed that the items were not needed; instead, the pumps were required.

The article quoted Minister Todd as expressing, in a letter, “the sincere gratitude” of the Guyanese people in “the face of the severe flooding affecting regions of Guyana”, but added, “I wish to advise that the critical items at this time is for pumps to meet the urgent demand for enhanced drainage capacity.”

In light of the situation that has risen, Minister Todd told this publication on Friday that he would have to discuss with Prime Minister Mark Phillips whether there is need now to update the list submitted to Caricom.

“I think we can revise [the list], but I will have to address that first with the Prime Minister, who is responsible for the [National Emergency] Task Force,” the Foreign Minister noted.

According to Todd, he has been “in touch” with his Trinidadian counterpart since submitting the specifications for the pumps to him.

Heavy rainfall over the past several weeks has resulted in all 10 regions of Guyana experiencing varying levels of flooding. However, as the water recedes, the country is preparing for the recovery process, and, as such, teams have been fanning out across the country to conduct assessments on the impact the unprecedented floods have had.

A special team from the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) is here working with local stakeholders to carry out the assessment.