Millions to be spent on massive plan to relieve flood-prone South G/town

- as gov’t eyes converting earthen drains to modern, concrete structures

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By Vishani Ragobeer

Vishani@newsroom.gy

A massive drainage plan, which could eventually entail the conversion of earthen drains converted into modern concrete structures, is planned for the South Georgetown area, the government has announced.

Several Ministers of Government met with South Georgetown residents on Thursday evening to follow-up on issues raised by residents during President Dr. Irfaan Ali’s recent visit to the community.

During that engagement, the cabinet members related that improving the drainage situation in this part of Guyana’s capital city is a central focus.

“…this area is like a basin.

“Some of (the water) drains through the Liliendaal sluice and some goes to the Demerara River,” Public Works Minister Juan Edghill explained.

Part of the government team that engaged residents of South Georgetown on Thursday. From left: Minister within the Ministry of Housing and Water Susan Rodrigues, Minister within the Ministry of Public Works Deodat Indar, Minister of Housing and Water Collin Croal, Minister of Local Government and Regional Development Nigel Dharamlall, and Minister of Public Works Juan Edghill (Photo: Ministry of Housing and Water/ June 23, 2022)

Because of its topography, the area has long been beset by heavy rainfall, particularly during the biannual rainy seasons experienced in Guyana as floodwater accumulated for much longer periods.

With this, Edghill also highlighted that roadworks often deteriorate much faster.

That is set to change with the government planning to spend roughly $40 million to desilt about 21 drains that are parallel to alleyways and streets in various parts of South Georgetown, Chairman of the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) Lionel Wordsworth told reporters on Thursday.

Wordsworth also told residents that there are plans to upgrade the Liliendaal pump system.

This station aids city drainage but it was previously reported that the connectivity of the city’s drainage network often makes water discharge a slow process.

Chairman of the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) Lionel Wordsworth (left) engaged Housing Minister Collin Croal (centre) and Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha (Photo: Ministry of Housing and Water/ June 23, 2022)

But even this is just a short term solution as earthen drains gradually become filled with silt again. The plan is to eventually convert those drains- not just in South Georgetown but all across the city- into concrete structures.

Minister within the Ministry of Public Works Deodat Indar told residents that South Ruimveldt Park has about 18 kilometres of drains that will cost $930 million to convert to concrete. South Ruimveldt Gardens has about 15 KM of drains, requiring some $786 million to be upgraded.

“Once the monies are available, we will start that programme but we have already done the surveys,” Indar said.

Later, he told the News Room, “Just South Ruimveldt Gardens and this community here (South Ruimveldt Park) is about $1.7 billion to remove those earthen drains and put in concrete drains.

“It’s not a little bit of money.”

COMMUNITY BUY-IN

The South Georgetown area remains flood-prone despite the use of several pumps and sluices during the rainy season. Complicating the situation is the worrisome neglect of some of those machines, Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha related on Thursday as well.

A resident raises a concern during the community meeting on Thursday (Photo: Ministry of Housing and Water/ June 23, 2022)

To guarantee that works done will have long lasting benefits, the government is seeking community buy-in. Providing maintenance contracts to groups in the area is one plan that is being explored.

“We want the community to monitor and supervise the works for us so that we can ensure the people do it up to the standard and specifications,” Mustapha said.

He also noted that if residents in the area have the capacity to execute the works, they would be invited to bid for contracts.

While a majority of the residents welcomed the initiatives meant to promote community buy-in, well-known artiste Saiku Andrews, who is a resident of the area, called on fellow residents to also take some responsibility in upkeeping their environs.

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