Linden mayor calls for compensation for flood affected residents

…Govt activates multiagency response

Heavy rainfall earlier this week had left dozens of households in Linden, Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Upper Berbice) flooded but while the water has receded in most communities by Wednesday, there has been calls for affected residents to be compensated.

The cleaning packages being distributed to flood-affected residents in Linden on Wednesday

One official, who is lobbying for this type of relief is the Mayor of Linden, Sharma Solomon. In a statement on Wednesday, he pointed out that the township is in need of immediate and substantial assistance to manage the flood relief efforts effectively. This, he said, includes funding for emergency services, infrastructure repair, and support for displaced residents and cash grants for those who suffered losses.
“The water had receded and persons are now cleaning up. That’s where we’re at right now; we’re doing a clean-up exercise and we noticed that the government has sent in now some works to be done, however, this is inadequate… What we’re asking for is for persons who suffer damages to be compensated or be given a grant [as a] relief for the things they have lost and the suffering they’ve incurred,” the Linden Mayor told the Guyana Times when contacted earlier on Wednesday for an update on the flood situation.
Overnight heavy downpours on Monday have left several sections in the mining town of Linden as well as other surrounding communities in Region 10 underwater. Based on reports received, residents woke up on Tuesday morning to find several inches of water in their homes.
In Linden, the excessive rainfall measured 170 millimeters at West Watooka, 160.6 millimeters at Wismar, and 123.4 millimeters at Coomacka.
Some of the other flood affected areas in Linden are: Silvertown, Canvas City, Silver City, Victory Valley, Block 22 – 1st, 2nd and 3rd Alley, Christianburg, Central Mackenzie, Retrieve, Kara Kara, Old Kara Kara and the Industrial Area.

Multiagency response
In many households, furniture, appliances and other items were damaged. Additionally, crops and livestock have also been affected by the inundation.
Local officials in Linden have since requested central government to provide resources to assist with the clearing of clogged drains in the township to alleviate the flooding during this rainy season.
In response, Government has activated a multiagency response to the floods in collaboration with the Linden Town Council and the Region 10 Administration.

Consequently, the Agriculture Ministry’s National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) as well as the Public Works Ministry have engaged several contractors to clean and clear drains in the affected communities, while bauxite company, Bosai Mineral Group, is also assisting with supplementary equipment for the cleaning and clearing exercises.

Moreover, the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) is setting up at least two shelters in Linden for persons whose homes were inundated.
Additionally, some 400 sanitisation packages were handed over to the Region 10 RDC on Wednesday to be distributed to the flood-affected persons there.
The packages, which were provided by the Office of the Prime Minister, consist of cleaning agents. Residents will also receive food hampers as part of the Government’s flood relief efforts.

Blame game
But even as Central Government stepped in to offer support to Linden, it has blamed the local officials for failing to adequately prepare for the rainy season.
A statement from the Office of the Prime Minister on Tuesday states: “From all indications, the areas affected by flooding are a direct result of the ineptitude of the current Mayor and Councillors who are focused on collecting revenues from all possible sources while failing to maintain the drainage infrastructure essential for the safety of the residents now suffering from the floods.”
It noted that the call for a swift response from the central government—commendably coordinated and delivered within 24 hours in the form of clearing drains, setting up shelters, and distributing relief supplies—is the easy part. Nevertheless, the government believes that given Linden’s highest per capita budget, surpassing any other administrative region in Guyana, it should be better prepared for flooding in the future.
“What truly needs addressing is the failure of local and regional governance of Region Ten and the Mayor and Town Council of Linden. Their collective failure to perform their duties, including taking advantage of the long dry season to clear the drains and clean up the entire town of Linden, is unacceptable. They even chose to boycott the town’s cleanup before the independence flag raising ceremony.”
“Both the RDC and the Municipality of Linden must now lead a massive cleanup operation before the next deluge. With the La Niña weather phenomenon predicting more rainfall in the coming months, immediate action is imperative,” the government posited.
However, Solomon, on the other hand, has laid the blame of the floods on “government’s mismanagement of services” that were removed by the Local Government Ministry from the oversight of the Town Council and given instead to the Community Development Councils (CDC) and the Community Infrastructural Improvement Project (CIIP) Project, which includes the cleaning and maintenance of drains, cleaning of soakaways and even parapets.
According to the Linden Mayor, despite repeated requests for support and intervention even for the Linden Town Week preparations, from higher levels of government, the Town Council has not received the necessary resources and attention to address these needs.
“The recent flag raising clean-up project where government spent tens of millions of dollars over looked the cleaning and clearing of main creeks, such as the Hymara, Wakanaboo and Katakara creeks has proven ineffective over the past 48hrs of addressing the issue of flooding and erosion across the town. Other infrastructural works such as roads and bridges have had their structure integrity compromised due to the absence of drains to accompany these recently constructed roads, such as Ice Water Road and several foot paths in the Victory Valley area, against the advised of the council and who along with residents had publicly protested this and were labelled anti-development.”
“The recent floods have exposed the deficiencies in our drainage systems, the inadequacy of our erosion control measures, and the overall fragility of our infrastructure with the need for studies of drainage networks across the town. These problems are not new; they are the result of years of underinvestment and neglect,” Solomon posited.
Nevertheless, urged Central Government to set aside political differences and prioritise the needs of the affected communities. He also called for a comprehensive multi-stakeholder review of the region’s current disaster preparedness and response strategies to ensure that such situations do not occur again.
The Linden Mayor further noted that he is committed to collaborating with the central government to achieve this goal. (G8)