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Steps being taken to alleviate flooding of Essequibo rice lands

The Ministry of Agriculture and the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) are working assiduously to alleviate the flooding of rice lands on the Essequibo Coast, according to the Government Information Agency (GINA).

The issue was reported to Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo on Saturday morning and he immediately alerted newly appointed Minister of Agriculture Noel Holder. Prime Minister Nagamootoo and Minister Holder dispatched NDIA head Lionel Wordsworth to the affected area and instructed that all efforts be made to bring relief to the affected rice farmers.

Over 1000 acres of rice lands between Queenstown and Devonshire Castle have been affected by the flood waters. Water had accumulated in the backlands over the past several days and excessive rainfall overnight exacerbated the situation.

Two pontoons fitted with two excavators each were this morning deployed to Windsor Castle and Capoey where they are being operated to desilt the outfall channels there. Regrettably it has been confirmed that the previous administration did not dredge or desilt the outfall channels in the area during the dry season. The excessive silt build up along with various sluices not being operational or fully operational have compounded the problem.

Of the eight sluices in the affected area, only two located at Anna Regina and La Union are working satisfactorily. Six pumps are working on a 24- hour basis in an effort to reduce the water level. Arrangements are also being made for an 80 cu sec pump to be taken into the affected area by tomorrow, Sunday, May 24. This pump will be located at Taymouth Manor.

Prime Minister Nagamootoo and Minister Holder both expressed deep concern for the welfare of the affected rice farmers and hope that the flood waters will recede appreciably as a result of the measures being taken. They have committed that every effort will be made to continue the process of battling the flood waters so that the problem does not spread to residential areas which are currently threatened.