Better drainage by year end - City
$179M to be spent
Five pumps to help

Stabroek News
July 5, 2001

Drainage of Georgetown will be significantly improved by the end of the year after the completion of a $179M project, the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) said yesterday.

This sum was the same figure allocated for the drainage system in the M&CC's 2001 $2.6 billion budget, in which drainage was said to be a priority.

The work is expected to improve the city's drainage capacity by some 60 per cent and should be completed by the end of the year.

However, Mayor Hamilton Green, speaking at a press conference yesterday, said remedying the legacy left by the Dutch and the misdeeds of the city would cost some $1.1 billion. Because the council cannot afford this large sum of money the drainage system will be upgraded in several phases.

The press conference, held in the chamber of the council, is an approach adopted by the mayor to keep the media and public informed on issues pertaining to the city.

The Cummings Canal, located in Kingston, and said to be integral to drainage in that part of the city, will be the first area to be tackled. It will be done at a cost of $2.1 million and approval has already been given for this project to kick off.

Residents in the area would also be involved in the venture.

Another project involves a contract with the Guyana Prison Service to use prison labour in selected areas in the city at a cost of $3.5 million.

Some areas in the city have been selected because of their "bad conditions" to be given out to private contractors over the next few weeks.

These areas are: Stevedore Housing Scheme, whose residents had picketed the council four weeks ago in an effort to have some attention paid to the area; East and North East La Penitence; Lodge; McDoom; Agricola; North Cummingsburg, and South Cummingsburg. According to Green, work in these areas was expected to cost in excess of $32 million.

The contractors for these areas have already been short?listed and to fulfil the requirement that they use unskilled labour, they would have to recruit at least 50 per cent of the labourers from the areas.

Deputy Mayor Robert Williams said that 12 contractors were short?listed from 21 who responded to an advertisement in the newspapers. Those short?listed were: Khemraj Singh Hiralall of General Contractor; Super Builders & General Contracting Co Ltd; Vishnu Construction Services; E. Cush Contracting Services; Stevedore Postal Community Development Group; Raymond Bros Inc; Franklin?Singh Disposal Services; Fyuse Hossain; Timothy Norton (Rev); and Lennox H. King. These contractors will tender for the various areas.

Five high?powered pumps, capable of delivering 75,000 gallons per minute, have also been acquired and made available to the municipality. They are basically mobile and if required could be moved and reassembled in six hours.

At a recent press conference President Bharrat Jagdeo announced that he was willing to advance $50 million of the $470 million budgeted by central government in taxes for the council to allow for civil works so that the city would not be flooded. He had said while large pumps had been acquired for the city they could not be installed because of a lack of financing for civil works.

Responding to a question, Williams said that the $50 million to be provided by the President was not for infrastructural work for the pumps as these were part of the Civil Defence Commission collaboration with the municipality. He said the contract had been awarded and the pumps will be installed. He suggested that the Head of State might have been furnished with information that was not accurate.

Green yesterday said that the five outfalls identified for the pumps were Kingston, Lamaha Street, Commerce Street, Princes Street, and one south of the police station at Riverview. The pumps would be put into use if ever there was an accumulation of water that could not be drained by the sluices.

The mayor acknowledged that citizens were not satisfied with the level of productivity of the staff of the council and as such the council was aiming at improving the work ethic of the staff members in the drainage sector. In the interim, discussions are also being held with the union on the hours and methodology of work by the staff members.

According to Green, the continuing problems revolve around squatting, the blocking of parapets where the council has to take equipment to clean the city, roaming animals and "a general lack of appreciation of the purpose of our canals." A campaign has been started by the council to prevail on citizens not to dump refuse in the city's canals.

The mayor pointed out that not only did the dumping of refuse in the canals look ugly, but it also "interferes with the integrity of the canal itself. ...and when there is a fire the fire brigade in nine times out of ten need to derive water from the canal and they have the problem of sucked up plastics and all kinds of things."

On another issue, the Mayor said that the majority of the city's culverts were in a state of disrepair and in some cases were costly to replace and repair. He disclosed that he had been speaking to President Jagdeo and has been assured that central government was prepared to help the council in this drive.

Responding to a letter in yesterday's Stabroek News which alluded to the Greater Georgetown Development Plan drafted by Professor Akhtar Khan not addressing the drainage and sewerage problems in the city, Green said the plan dealt with the structural development of the city. He said while the council did not have town planners it had the skills to deal with basic drainage work. (Samantha Alleyne)