Flood waters recede, drainage system being cleared; politicians trade blame for disaster

Last Updated on Thursday, 30 May 2024, 22:59 by Writer

Even as flood waters were receding from the south-eastern town of Linden and surrounding Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Upper Berbice) areas, the opposition-controlled regional council and government on Wednesday traded blame for the severity and response to the flood.

The Civil Defence Commission (CDC), Guyana’s disaster response agency, reported that water has receded in Noitgedacht where the Community Development Council (CDC) group has been activated to start the cleaning and desilting of concrete drains in the area.

The CDC said an excavator was cleaning and desilting the Noitgedacht back drains. The agency said in Central Mackenzie water has receded and areas such as Retrieve, Kara Kara, Old Kara Kara. CDC groups have been activated to start manual cleaning and desilting of the internal concrete drains to reduce the effects of flood in the residential area.

Further, a machine has been deployed to start cleaning and desilting the Kara Kara Creek, which drains water from Retrieve and Kara Kara Rainbow City. However, the Commission said Old Kara Kara was still experiencing flood from the Kara Creek because residents had built their houses in that flood prone area.

Region 10 Chairman, Deron Adams released correspondence dating back to 2021 to Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha listing a “critical capital works” that needed to be done to improve drainage in several areas of that region. He said only three drains were built by Central Government each in 2021 to 2024, rather than more than 50 drains. Instead, he said government focussed on the construction of roads.

Mr Adams said more than 1,000 persons were affected by Monday’s flood.

With the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) saying that on Tuesday two excavators were deployed to “undertake urgent and critical drainage works” in areas such as Fairs Rust, Watooka and Noitgedacht Back Road, he said Monday’s flood could have been avoided if government had heeded the request and involved the Linden Town Council and Region 10 Council. “I believe that it is something that could have been prevented had the administration acted upon the recommendation of the RDC from the time that we came into office,” he told Demerara Waves Online News.

He said residents and businesses in Kara Kara, Retrieve, Christianburg, Silver Town, Green Valley and Victory Valley suffered “hundreds of millions of dollars” in damage and destruction caused by the flood waters. Mr Adams said if the outfalls were cleared, the flood could have been avoided.

NDIA said Bosai also deployed two hydraulic excavators to assist with the removal of materials to construct a temporary cofferdam to aid in the diversion and removal of flood waters draining towards the Demerara River.

The NDIA said critical drainage works were carried out on Tuesday in areas such as Fairs Rust, Watooka and Noitgedacht Back Road and similar works were expected to continue in Wismar Shore such as Silvertown, Victory Valley , First, Second, and Third Alley. While water has receded on the Mackenzie shore, the NDIA said manual cleaning would continue in areas surrounding the Kara Kara Creek, include Speightland, Old Kara Kara, Retrieve, and the Oval.

The NDIA made no mention of working with the Linden Town Council or the Region 10 Council, but instead said it was doing so with development council groups to ensure systems were in place to minimize erosion on the main road leading to Burnham Drive. “Sand bags were also placed as an embankment protection from floodwaters.” The NDIA also said it was working with CDC groups to conduct manual cleaning of garbage and other materials from inside Ice Water Creek.

Contrary to claims by the Region 10 Chairman that the Town and Regional Councils had been isolated by central government to respond to the flood, Prime Minister Mark Phillips said those two local government entities were engaged in responding to the disaster. “The Ministry of Public Works (MoPW), in collaboration with the Linden Town Council and the Office of the Regional Democratic Council, is working assiduously to clean and clear debris in critical areas, including alleys in Wismar and the Retrieve area in Linden,” Retired Brigadier Phillips said.

The Prime Minister blamed the Linden Town Council’s “neglect” of the drainage system while collecting revenue from all possible sources. He chided the local and regional governance bodies for failing to perform their duties, including taking advantage of the long dry season to clear the drains and clean up the entire town of Linden. Given Region Ten’s highest per capita budget, surpassing any other administrative region in Guyana, the Prime Minister said that region should be better prepared for flooding.

Deeming that approach as “unacceptable”, he said those councils chose to boycott the town’s cleanup before the recent 58th Independence flag raising ceremony.