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72-hour plan to ease flood; evidence shows neglected drainage infrastructure

Even as more rain is forecast until Thursday, authorities are overseeing the implementation of a 72-hour action plan to remove several bottlenecks and so  drain the city and lower East Coast Demerara rapidly.

Under the chairmanship of the Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson, engineers and decision-makers have decided to tackle several areas immediately to bring relief to affected communities.

“We are putting in place some short-term measures which we do hope would help alleviate the flooding. Unfortunately, we have been advised that the rains would continue for the next two to three days,” he said. Patterson said efforts would be made to repair four drainage pumps within 48 hours.

Asked about flooding in parts of East Coast Demerara, Patterson said that area is “draining satisfactorily” like in areas of the West Coast Demerara. “Of immediate concern is the lower East Coast and Georgetown,” he said.

Latest figures show that there were more than five inches of rainfall in Georgetown and lower East Coast Demerara within the past 24 hours. The last low tide was at 8:45 AM Sunday and the next high tide is expected to last from 3:11 PM Sunday to 8:52 PM Sunday.

Efforts to improve drainage in the coming days would include the removal of an obstruction to the complete opening of the Sussex Street sluice door and repairs to the revetment there to allow the free flow of water. Giving an update on the state of the infrastructure, Engineer Walter Willis said the revetment at the Princess Street sluice has also fallen into disrepair and was affecting the free flow of water.

At John Fernandes area on Water Street, the sluice is opened but the pump there needs repair and the pump suction is currently located in the middle of the inlet channel.

While the outfall for the sluice inside Muneshwer’s Limited on Water Street has been cleaned, Willis recommended that the sluice door be raised and that the inlet from Bank of Guyana to that sluice be desilted. He recommended a joint venture with Muneshwer’s to maintain the sluice door and build concrete walls and a bottom for the outfall.

Willis further told the meeting that the Lamaha Street sluice has not been opened for some time now, the inlet is blocked and the pump has no suction.  In addition, he part of the inlet has been covered by BK International to accommodate his heavy duty machinery.

Although the sluice at Cowan Street, Kingston is working, Willis said a number of barges was parked near the outfall. Officials agreed that the Cummings Canal, which is drained by the Cowan Street sluice, also needs desilting.

The experts and officials also agreed to lift the grill at the Riverview Sluice, Ruimveldt to allow a large quantity of garbage to be flushed out into the Demerara River and so make way for the free flow of water.

Mayor Hamilton Green recommended that the canal under the Indian Monument on Church Street be cleaned.

He appealed to residents to be patient and stop littering while the central government, business community and local government work together to bring relief.

Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan told Demerara Waves that Sunday’s flooding “highlights the grave crisis” facing Georgetown and some other vulnerable parts of the country.

Bulkan said that currently the system previously used by the old administration is still in  effect, but under his supervision his “primary focus is capacity building, by equiping and empowering the municipalities to prevent or reduce flooding.”

He said the flooding has slowed up the cleanup work taking place in the city. As normal, citizens and affected persons are being asked to take the necessary health precautions in relation to contact with the flood waters and the management of drinking supply.

During the May/June rains last year some persons had woken up to flood water already lodged in their homes.
The entire city had been under water as a result of the country’s annual monsoon period that could see the rising of water levels some which comes from far off interior locations.