Nat'l effort needed to prepare for rainy season – Minister Persaud
- Cuban weather system to assist with predictions

Kaieteur News
April 28, 2007

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Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud yesterday appealed for a national effort in preparation for an anticipated 40 per cent above normal rainfall over the next two months, and which is likely to extend into August.

During a meeting of the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA), Minister Persaud provided an update on Government's preparations and plans, including the recent approval of an additional $400 million to procure equipment.

He disclosed that Guyana has received a link from Cuba's National Weather Service, which will assist with the provision of extremely reliable weather predictions.

“Cuba has had a very good record in terms of getting early warning systems and preparing, and we are advised that we could get three days of accurate weather information. We have received the link from the Cuban authorities and we are in the process of activating the link whereby our Hydromet office can, in addition to what we use currently, get some real time data in that regard,” Minister Persaud stated.

He said that last year there were similar predications of above normal rainfall, but because of vigilance and perseverance, a major disaster was averted.

According to Persaud, for the Month of April, data from the Hydrometeorological Office shows that there has been above normal rainfall in Regions Six, Nine, Seven and Eight, while the other coastal regions have received rainfall level that is close to the normal level as data historically suggests.

The Minister stated that all citizens have a role to play in ensuring that Guyana is well equipped to deal with heavy rainfall and to avoid any disasters. Residents are being urged to desist from dumping garbage into drains or channels.
Theft of machinery parts from pump houses and interference with Drainage & Irrigation (D&I) structures can result in serious implications to the effective operations of the system, Minister Persaud pointed out.
He indicated that stricter monitoring and inspections of all D&I structures countrywide by the NDIA will be undertaken.

Persaud noted that a 24-hour command communication centre will be set up at the Ministry of Agriculture to deal with emergencies that may arise during the rainy season. It will provide information to other agencies such as the Sea Defence Unit and the Civil Defence Commission.

An advertisement is currently being published for interested persons to supply approximately $400M worth of machinery and equipment that will be used to bolster capabilities to deal with the expected heavy rainfall. These include long-boom excavators, mini-excavators, bulldozers and pontoons for the East Demerara Water Conservancy (EDWC).

An additional 30 weather monitoring stations will be operational by May, particularly in the Mahaica, Mahaicony and Abary areas. At the beginning of this year, the Minister had indicated that there were 100 existing stations.

A substantial amount of D&I work has been carried out since last January in Regions One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six and Ten, representing an investment of approximately $270M.

In Region One, $5M will be spent to clean and excavate drains, while $36M is being spent to construct a drainage sluice at Charity, Region Two. Projects in Region Three include construction of a $10M structure at Leguan Island and maintenance of canals in several areas across the region.

Canals in several Region Four communities have undergone maintenance including in Cane Grove, Victoria, Anns Grove/Two Friends, Dochfour, Hope Estate, Belfield and Friendship, East Bank Demerara.

In Region Five, rehabilitation and maintenance of structures are being done to the secondary drainage system in the Mahaica, Mahaicony and Abary areas while maintenance has been done to the primary canals. In addition, a revetment is being constructed at the Bellamy sluice.

Facade drains are being maintained at Number 52 Village, Crabwood Creek, and to canals at Black Bush Polder in Region Six. In Region Ten, structures are being built, and the Kara Kara rivermouth and drain are being cleared.

At the EDWC, repairs are in progress to the Kofi relief channel embankment.