Charity water level remains high
- Ministry team to visit the area

By Oscar P. Clarke
Stabroek News
April 7, 2000

Water levels remain dangerously high at Charity on the Pomeroon River following recent heavy showers coupled with a non-functioning koker.

A resident of the area yesterday said that water in the trenches remained high despite sunshine in the community yesterday. The resident said that they were at the mercy of the weather which was likely to change at any time. On Wednesday heavy rain compounded by the inoperative koker inundated the Charity area. Many businesses and residences were left under three to four inches of water.

The Charity Sluice, which is the bone of contention, has been non-functional for the last five months, following the awarding of a contract for its repair to the Guyana Construction Company Ltd (GUYCO).

Efforts to contact Regional Chairman, Ally Baksh, or his deputy were unsuccessful. They were said to be "in the fields"; Baksh at Supenaam and Samaroo at Charity.

According to the company's project manager for Essequibo, Romeo Romascindo, GUYCO was awarded the six-month contract, but was on March 18, given verbal notice to cease work on the site, with the promise of a letter to the effect to follow. He said that to date, this letter has not been received, but the company had noticed another contractor on the site.

The contract, according to the project head, was awarded through the Central Tender Board and falls under the auspices of the National Drainage and Irrigation Board (D&IB).

The verbal notification was said to have been given by Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the D&IB, Ravi Narine.

Romascindo opined that before arbitrarily removing them from the job, those in authority should have sat down and talked about the problems associated with the work.

It was stated that changes had been made to the original design which required GUYCO to operate at a greater depth. This, it was claimed, led to slippage which was shown to this newspaper on Tuesday afternoon. It was this land movement, according to the project manager, which helped to sway the authorities' minds as they did not want a repeat of the Charity wharf fiasco.

GUYCO had moved to the court and obtained an injunction, citing breach of contract, since it stated that according to that document two weeks notice needed to be given before it could be dismissed.

Efforts to contact Narine were referred to Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Dindyal Permaul, whom, it was stated had the sole responsibility of speaking with the media.

Dr Permaul told Stabroek News that his ministry was aware of the situation and was in the process of assembling a team of technicians and engineers to go to the region to do an assessment.

The team, which will be led by the D&I Board head, Dr Permaul stated, will examine the site and make recommendations on what relief measures could be adopted. He further stated that the ministry was in the process of mobilising resources to tackle the problem.

He refused to be drawn on the reason for the termination of GUYCO's contract but did acknowledge that the matter was engaging the attention of the court.

Dr Permaul was of the view that the existing spring tide coupled with unseasonal heavy rainfall contributed to the present flooding which was occurring throughout the coast. This view was shared by Romascindo who further mentioned that GUYCO had put in place other measures to cater for the drainage of the area.

The project manager did not believe the non-functioning sluice would have done much in the present circumstances since all the kokers had to be closed after only four hours of service on Wednesday evening.

Meanwhile the other contractor said to have been hired to complete the work, BK International Inc had started work on the site but following the injunction had ceased work.