Govt to assume supervisory responsibility for city pumps, sluices

…after Mayor says not his job, refuses to accept blame for poor management

Georgetown Mayor Ubraj Narine on Thursday refused to take the blame for the lackadaisical approach towards the management of the city’s pump stations, sluices, and kokers. He told Government Ministers that he is not responsible for supervising the technical workers of the City Council.

Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha

The Georgetown Mayor and other City officials were invited to a meeting with the Ministers of Agriculture, Local Government and Public Works to discuss how to address the flashfloods occurring in the City during the heavy downpours. This is especially in light of the fact that President Dr Irfaan Ali himself, aside from several Ministers, had made checks at the various pump stations and kokers and had found the operators were neglecting their posts and duties, resulting in the unnecessary flooding of the City.
The media was invited to cover the meeting between the City officials and the Ministers, which occurred at the Agriculture Ministry’s Boardroom, but reporters and cameramen were not allowed to be present during the actual meeting.
Following the more-than-hour-long discussion, the City officials departed, and the Government Ministers spoke to reporters about what had transpired.
Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha said the responses provided by the Mayor were “unacceptable”.
According to Mustapha, Mayor Narine indicated that the technical officers attached to the M&CC are responsible for monitoring the pumps and sluices.

“The Mayor basically said if the technical people cannot supervise, then he cannot do much about that. I find that very strange, because the responsibility stops at the Mayor’s desk, and he has to ensure that the (City) and these critical structures are manned properly, and that all systems are in place,” Minister Mustapha posited.
“This is our capital city, and as a Government, we’ve been making the resources available to the City Council in terms of getting the drainage and irrigation system…during the latter part of 2020, we would’ve increased the drainage capacity of Georgetown by installing three additional pumps. Georgetown now has twelve pumps installed. We also have approximately 10 sluices,” he added.
The Agriculture Minister said a number of issues were raised with City officials, particularly the Mayor, but he was unable to respond with any useful information or solution.

Georgetown Mayor Ubraj Narine

“I don’t think we had a proper answer coming out from the City Council. That means that the Ministries of Agriculture, Local Government and Public Works will have to devise how they will monitor the system, and get it to work although those operators both from the sluices and the pumps are employees of City Hall.
“The Mayor said he doesn’t have to supervise those employees…that he has his administration, so I asked him the rhetorical question: ‘Who supervises the Administration?’ because if the Administration is not delivering, he has to make sure the Administration delivers,” Mustapha posited.

Garbage pile-up
Local Government and Regional Development Minister Nigel Dharamlall explained that Government has already invested close to $1B in drainage and irrigation in Georgetown over the past ten months. He also observed that there is now a lacklustre approach to cleaning up the City.

“The Government has been doing the heavy lifting in Georgetown. We expected that the City Council would’ve engaged in the sustainable management of these facilities that we have put in place. A few years ago, the last Government did some cleaning, and it is obvious that City Hall [is now] refusing to do any maintenance. The alleyways that we have in Georgetown…we have tens of miles of alleyways, and many of them are still clogged up.

Local Government Minister Nigel Dharamlall

“Only last December, through the Ministries of Local Government and Public Works, we did a lot of cleaning in both North and South Georgetown. We are currently in with some collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, doing work in South Georgetown as well as Sophia, cleaning drains, canals and even alleyways. So it is flabbergasting that the Mayor comes here and throws his hands up and doesn’t want to take responsibility,” Dharamlall contended.

Refusing to face the media
Mayor Narine and other City officials have refused to face the media on issues relating to flooding in the City.
In fact, the Agriculture Minister noted that the intention was for both the ministerial delegation and the City officials to address the media jointly following the meeting, but Mayor Narine and team opted to leave.
This publication approached the Mayor for a comment on the issue, but he has refused to answer any question.