Region 5 flooding
… refuses to meet with National Disaster Management Committee
The Regional Executive Officer (REO) of Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice), Ovid Morrison, is yet to address the way forward in providing relief to residents hit by floodwaters in that region. The REO has reportedly refused to meet with the Regional Chairman, who on Saturday summoned a meeting of the National Disaster Management Committee following continuous rainfall over the past two days which left several villages inundated.
Regional Chairman Vickchand Ramphal told Guyana Times that villages including Bushlot; Numbers 28, 29, and 30; Trafalgar; Bath Settlement; Kingerly; Rosignol and Tempie; Maichony; Abary; Hopetown; and Mahaica Creek are all flooded. He noted that in the Rosignol-Blairmont area the water has receded.
“Areas like Bushlot, the water is still on the land and it is moving very slow. This would have been caused by the many canals that are heavily clogged. In the Mahaicony area there are a number of canals and trenches that need to be cleaned and that would have compounded the situation. Farmers would have already suffered loses to their crops and livestock in some areas,” Ramphal said.
As a result of the accumulation of several inches on water in some communities, at about 11:00h on Saturday, the Regional Chairman summoned a meeting of the National Disaster Management Committee of which the REO Ovid Morrison is a key member.
The meeting was called to decide on a way forward. According to the Chairman, the REO refused to meet.
“His words to me were that until I apologise to him only then he will be meeting with me. I am saying that Region Number Five is under a crisis and people are suffering; many would have already lost millions of dollars and now the REO is asking for an apology and refusing to meet with me and the Regional Disaster Management Committee which is part of the Civil Defence Commission. This is the agency that deals with natural disasters across the country.”
The REO has also not allowed any of his officers to be part of any such meeting as he is awaiting an apology from a previous exchange between himself and the Regional Chairman.
“The REO needs to apologise to the many teachers across Region Five who he would have put in some difficult situations when he would have planned to withhold their salaries of those teachers and also he needs to apologise to the NDCs [Neighbourhood democratic Councils] and also all the residents of those NDCs across this region because it has been over seven months and the REO cannot get his signature on the banks accounts of those NDCs,” the Regional Chairman lamented.
The refusal of the REO to sign on the bank accounts has resulted in the 10 NDCs in the region not being able to spend money in areas that are critical and in need of emergency works when it comes to drainage and irrigation, along with the maintenance of roads and other infrastructures.
Meanwhile, rice farmers in the Mahaica/Mahaicony areas have also experienced flooding. According to Ramphal, the Hope Canal has played a great role in reducing flooding in those communities. He said in the past when the East Demerara Water Conservancy would have reached its maximum level, water would normally be channelled into the Mahaica Creek, resulting in flooding in that area. However since the canal was dug and is fully operational, it helped tremendously with the farming community within the Mahaica/Mahaicony area. (Andrew Carmichael)