Govt claims drought-stricken Essequibo farmers are victims of opposition political sabotage

Last Updated on Thursday, 4 February 2016, 11:51 by Denis Chabrol

Amid a scorching drought, combined with salt water intrusion, that is biting rice and 'cash crop' farmers on the Essequibo Coast, a top government official says drainage and irrigation workers there maybe engaging in political sabotage.

The Prime Minister's Special Representative in Region Two, Karan Chand told reporters that he believes that a number of the rangers might be sabotaging the drainage system in this agriculture-dependent stronghold of the main opposition People's Progressive Party Civic.

"There seems to be some sabotage in the region and this is politically driven and rangers are not doing their work," he said.

Chand added that farmers were complaining that they were not seeing the rangers in the backlands monitoring the regulation of water and the cleaning of canals.

Prime Ministerr Moses Nagamootoo's representative linked his claim of political sabotage to Local Government Elections that are scheduled for March,2016.

"There is Local Government Election coming up and this area is a predominantly opposition area so some people want to do all they can to see that this government does not succeed; they have their own agenda and so we in government have to be on top of things," he said.

Chand said if an investigaton confirms that there is sabotage or any other acts, "they should be fired" after due process including warnings.

Earlier, Chairman of the Essequibo Paddy Farmers, Naith Ram called on authorities to take action against alleged saboteurs.

"Those who are in charge of the drainage and irrigation need to be removed because they are not managing the system," he said.

Those concerns, he said, have been raised with top regional officials to no avail.

Chand and Ram were among numerous persons who attended a public meet the people at Unity Park being developed at Perth.

In opening remarks,  Prime Minister Nagamootoo said the meeting was part of the coalition administration's "Open Governance" system.

"It's part and parcel of a new system called open givernance based on partnership and open data," he said. "You shoukd be given data and told the facts about what affects your lives."

Minister of State, Joseph Harmon urged attendees to express concerns to representatives of the Civil Defence Commission, Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration and the General Registrar's Office.