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Diaspora News - January 4 - 10, 2014

Diaspora News - January 4 - 10, 2014

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January 4 - 10, 2014
Vol. 24
January 4 - 10, 2014
Vol. 24

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Published by: Brigadier David Granger on Jan 12, 2014
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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 APNU calls on PPPC to launch a national flood control plan
 A Partnership for National Unity expresses its dismay at the continued failure of the People‟s Pro-
gressive Party Civic administration to protect the population from the ravages of repeated flooding. The Partnership calls on the Government to urgently launch a comprehensive national flood con-trol plan.  APNU has noted with alarm that every month, major floods occur somewhere in the country
either on the coastland or in the hinterland. The PPPC administration, however, seems unable or unprepared to implement measures to identify the causes, to notify the populace and to mitigate the impact of this recurrent hazard. The extent, intensity and frequency are unmistakable. 2013  was a year in which significant flooding occurred every month: January on the East Coast Demerara; February, in sections of Kingston, Georgetown; March, in sections of Uitvlugt on the West Coast Demerara;  April, on the East and West Coast Demerara and the Essequibo Coast; May, at Bartica in the Cuyuni-Mazaruni Region and St Ignatius in the Rupununi Region; June, at Den Amstel on the West Coast Demerara; July, in Albouystown, Georgetown;  August, on the East Bank Demerara; September, at Tuschen, on the West Coast Demerara; October, again in Albouystown, Georgetown; November, in sections of Georgetown and elsewhere; and December, in the Pomeroon-Supenaam Region and elsewhere.  APNU is concerned that this pattern of monthly flooding continues to incur incalculable personal losses in terms of damage to homes, household goods and domestic and agricultural equipment, the destruction of farms and the death of livestock.  APNU laments the fact that the PPPC administration has never conducted an inquiry into the cata-
strophic “Great Flood” of January 2005 or of the frequent floods which continue to plague the
country. The impact of the despoliation, however, cannot be ignored. An Inter-American Develop-ment Bank study reported that, from 1988 to 2006, floods affected 965,000 persons and resulted
in more than US$663M in economic damage. The „Great Flood‟ reportedly affected 25 per cent of
the national population and caused economic losses equivalent to 60 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for that year.
January 4
 10, 2014
Vol. 24
The study points out, further, that “a result of the dynamic interplay between high tides, high rain-
fall levels and a network of drainage and irrigation canals, conservancy dams and sluices designed to support agriculture, the coastland, as well as riverine areas and some low-lying parts of the hin-
terland, are at high risk to flooding.”
 It is a well-
known fact that Guyana‟s coastal zone lies near or below sea level. The rate of sea
-level rise in the Caribbean is predicted to be five times greater than the world's average, according to the IDB study. This means that sea-
level rise resulting from global warming could “significantly in-
crease disaster risk in Guyana to levels that threaten the physical and economic viability of the
coastal zone.” Since the „Great Flood,‟ the administration has been on a spending spree. It has squandered bil-
lions on world cup cricket, the Caribbean Festival of the Arts (Carifesta), a five-star hotel and oth-er prestige projects while neglecting the infrastructure needed to protect the country from flood-ing. The damaging effects and frequent occurrence of flooding in this country demand more serious at-tention from the government than the usual, annual adhocery and phoney expressions of concern for the victims. The PPPC administration needs to promulgate a
 National Flood Control Mas-ter Plan
 that must comprehend the consequences of climate change that are so evident to every-one else everywhere around the world today. The proposed
 must be capable of anticipating the monthly cycle of flooding and of notifying citizens early of the onset of extreme weather and the threat of flooding. The
 must strength-en disaster risk management agencies and maintain sea defence and flood protection infrastruc-ture. The
, most of all, must embody a strategy to protect lives and property from the consequences of the devastating floods of the sort that have affected our country over the past decade.
On Tuesday 7
 January, 2014, a delegation from APNU led by Dr. Rupert Roopnarine, MP, and including Dr. Rishee Thakur, visited the NDC at Lancaster/Hogstye on the Corentyne. The visit  was in response to several complaints of sustained flooding in the area including a piece in
 Kaieteur News
, 4
 January 2014,
"Failed predictions - Lower Corentyne still floods".
The following day, 8
 January, 2014, another story, of the same "flooding", appeared in
 Stabroek  News
. The latter it appears was a response from the Regional Chairman to the previous piece in
 Kaieteur News
, which he felt was unfair, if not without foundation. The RDC Chairman suggested that his visit to the area could not confirm what appeared in
 as generalised flooding due to poor if not the absence of maintenance. He suggested, first, that the complaint of "flooding" came from a single person, a Mr. O'Neil Leitch. Second, he noted that the areas under flood waters were "swamplands" and "marsh", marginal at best to the community and, therefore, of little consequence to its health/welfare. He did admit, however, that while there was some flooding which was only temporary - a coinci-dental combination of the "spring tide" and the "constant rains", that had simply "overwhelmed the drainage system".
In addition, he acknowledged that the initial flooding was caused by a dysfunctional pump which has since been repaired and now operational. Moreover, the RDC has sent a mini excavator to the area while the drainage sluice, connected to the out fall channel, was functional, operating at ca-pacity. Understandably, the Chairman is peeved at
 insinuations of extensive flooding and, ac-cording to
 "slammed" it for "its inaccuracies
". "When we come into the ground we are
not seeing what these people are writing,” 
he told
 Stabroek News
“The motive here is to make the regional administration look bad… I am here and I am not seeing anything of what is reported…
 I asked residents about the picture of the flooded area but no one seems to know the
 Armogan said. Cursory reflection and a little investigation suggest that the Chairman's inquiry of the flooding may have been a bit hurried while his assessment may be equally hasty. First, the
r article sug-gests that the reporter had spoken to at least three named persons: Charles Smart, Patricia Blend-man and O'Neil Leitch. Second, the reporter referenced "residents" at least six times to suggest that he had in fact spoken to several persons in the community and not just one, as the Chairman suggests. Similarly, the APNU delegation spoke to more than a dozen persons, including employ-ees of the NDC who confirmed the widespread flooding - represented in the
article. While there may be questions of detail, as per the source or real cause of the flooding, there is no doubt that the flooding was widespread and not confined to a small area in Liverpool and now receding.  APNU delegation is similarly confused by what the chairman means by "swamplands" and "marsh". None of the flooded areas visited were outside the residential community, neither back lands nor foreshore. What we did see were drainage canals without withholding dams that had long disappeared while several trenches and drains were overgrown with reeds and brush, quite  visible from the public road, indicating that they had not been cleaned for years.  What they do suggest is systemic neglect and official dereliction well before the present Chairman's tenure. And while we too, under other circumstances, would naturally see marsh and swamplands
the Chairman‟s designation is revealing. Human beings could hardly be expected to live in such
conditions. Certainly part of the problem is the absence of an NDC since the passing of the last Chairman a few  years ago. Ironically, while the Minister of Local Government has seen fit to replace most of the
existing NDCs in the region with IMC‟s Lancaster
-Hogstye has been left to fend for itself. No offi-cial authority to either take responsibility or provide accountability - the best way, it seems, to ex-ercise authority.

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