The floods remain
MP claims Region Four funds misused
Stabroek News
January 6, 2004

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The floods remained yesterday with water of biblical proportions stretching for miles along the East Coast starting at Turkeyen and going all the way to Mahaicony.

And while residents punish under the deluge, PPP/C Member of Parliament, Neil Kumar, is accusing the Region Four Regional Democratic Council of unfairly allocating resources for drainage.

According to a release from the Government Information Agency (GINA), in an invited comment on the flood, Kumar said the problem could have been avoided if proper work had been done. He also expressed concern over the way the region allocated and expended funds.

Contacted later, RDC chairman, Allan Munroe declined to comment.

According to GINA, Kumar accused the RDC of continually expending funds in particular areas when the funds should have been evenly distributed.

He urged the RDC not to use the situation to mismanage government's funds, adding that approximately $10M was expended on drainage and irrigation works in Ann's Grove last year.

He added that a considerable amount of money was also spent on the rehabilitation of other kokers and sluices.

According to Kumar, the Region Four RDC awarded contracts to a specific set of contractors whose credibility was questionable. He said that other PPP/C councillors had criticised the way the contracts were awarded, since they and members of the works and finance committees had been left out of this process.

Meanwhile, Kumar said he had visited villages on the East Coast and East Bank to assess the situation and was assured by Regional Executive Officer, Mohamed Deen and Chairman of the National Drainage and Irrigation Board, Ravi Narine, that the situation was under control.

The situation in Region Four as reported to GINA by Munroe is that water has been receding but there are concerns that water is seeping in from behind the Conservancy Dam in the Clonbrook backlands. Region Five has been experiencing heavy flooding especially in Mahaica. and the Regional Democratic Council has been in contact with various Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) to ensure that there is a free flow of water.

Stabroek News toured the flood-hit coast yesterday. At the University of Guyana (UG) campus, the Institute of Science and Technology (IAST) compound was under several inches of water and the UG playing field was also submerged. The access roads at some places were also under water.

The Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) compound was totally submerged and students were wading through the water with their protective footwear.

Official word out of the institution is that classes have been cancelled indefinitely. This is to allow the floodwater to drain off.

However, this seems likely to be a long time since only one of the two drainage pumps in the Liliendaal area is working.

At Sophia, just behind UG, the water was so high that residents had to fold up their clothing, take off their shoes and wade through the water. Some residents are actually carrying small amounts of water to wash their feet before replacing their shoes.

The residents complained the water was preventing them from getting their children to school and getting to work.

At Le Ressouvenir there are large pools of water covering the land. Animals could be seen resting on the road reserves, since the reserves are generally higher than the land on which the houses are constructed.

Residents at Felicity complained that such flooding was new to them and was preventing them from carrying on with their usual daily routine.

The water at Good Hope showed no signs of receding up to yesterday. There are several houses cut off by large expanses of water. The cemetery at Good Hope is also submerged.

In Annandale and Buxton, many walkways are under water. In order to get out of their homes some residents have to feel for their bridges so as to avoid slipping into the canal.

Melanie North is totally surrounded by water and resembles a large swampland with houses emerging out of its depths.

At Ann's Grove there is a pump throwing large torrents of water over the seawall. But the pump has its work cut out with an expansive swampland stretching from the seawall going 400-500 metres inland. The only evidence of land was a few tufts of grass. Cows grazing in some of these flooded fields were up to their knees.

The banks of a canal flowing through the village of Nooten Zuil was dangerously overflowing its banks and covering the road running along its eastern bank. The Mahaica Creek was hugely swollen almost reaching onto the roadway at certain points. At Mahaica, residents complained of losing livestock to the floods.

Maenwhile, the Mayor and City Council in a press statement noted that whenever the city experiences the coincidence of heavy rains (59.6 millimetres) and high tide, there would be "overtapping" in certain areas.

The release said that City Engineers are doing their utmost to ensure the integrity of the drainage system in all sections of the city.

The M&CC is responsible for maintaining pumps at Liliendaal which service the UG/Cummings Lodge area, Pattensen, Sophia and South Georgetown among others.

The Meteorological Department has reported continued heavy rainfall for the next two weeks with occasional thunderstorms.