Rain preparations quicken -works pegged at $667M
Stabroek News
April 28, 2007

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Just over $267 million has so far been spent on preparations for the May/June rains with works still ongoing in several areas and a further $400 million has been approved for the purchase of machinery to aid the process.

A communication system is also to be set up by the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) to coordinate operations within several regions and the East Demerara Water Conservancy (EDWC).

"We are taking all the necessary precautions," Agricul-ture Minister Robert Persaud declared, providing an update on precautionary measures for the upcoming rainy season at the opening session of the NDIA Board meeting at the Ministry of Agriculture's boardroom yesterday.

Persaud said works in preparation for the May-June rains are ongoing while some have been completed and others are slated to begin shortly.

Among the finished projects are the construction of revetment at Warami, Boerasirie Conservancy in Region Three done at a cost of $7 million; maintenance works on the primary system canals of the Mahaicony/Mahaica/Abary-Agricultural Development Authority (MMA/ADA) done at a cost of $30 million; and a $2 million project to maintain sluice structures along the right bank of the Abary River.

Still ongoing are several projects including the construction of a $36 million drainage sluice at Charity on the Essequibo Coast, the construction of a drainage structure at Leguan costing $10 million and the construction of revetment and desilting of the Bellamy Sluice inlet and outlet channel in Region Five which is being done at a cost of $23 million. Also ongoing is the clearing of canals in areas across the country.

Projects slated to begin shortly include the spraying of weeds in the Mahaicony Creek and maintenance works on the Ice Water creek and the desilting of the Kara Kara river mouth in Region Ten among others. Persaud stated that while the works are being done at great cost, it would all count for nothing if persons did not do their part. Noting problems encountered in the past including koker attendants falling asleep on the job and the disposal of garbage in the canals, Persaud appealed for persons to be on alert. "All the work we are doing can come to zero," he said, adding that if persons continued with acts that were inimical to the integrity of the system then all the works done would count for nothing.

He also noted that a communication system is in the process of being established by the NDIA that would link Regions Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Ten and the EDWC.

He said that so far there have been no reports of flooding and the maintenance of drainage and irrigation structures in Regions Two, Three, Four, Five, Six and Ten is ongoing and is now in "flood control operations" with mobile pumps deployed to strategic locations.

He revealed that $400 million has been budgeted for the procurement of excavators, track type dozers, pontoons, punts, aluminium boats and outboard engines, other machinery and also for the supply and installation of communication sets to the NDIA.

He said current levels of water in the various conservancies are 55.45 GD at the EDWC (Lama), 59.50 GD at Boerasirie and 62.60 GD at the Abary Conservancy. At the EDWC all relief structures are closed and the water level is being replenished while at Boerasirie water is being released to the Uitvlugt and Wales estates. The full supply level of water in the various conservancies should be 57.50 GD at the EDWC, 61.55 GD at Boerasirie and 64 GD at the Abary Con-servancy. (Gaulbert Sutherland)