Several contractors employed by the Crabwood Creek Water Users Association (CCWUA) have not received a cent in payment for D&I works carried out during the first six months of the year, and the CCWUA is calling on the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) to provide the money to pay the contractors.
The CCWUA has warned of the onset of dire consequences if payments are not made urgently as the second half of the year commences.
The NDIA has not paid for any of the manual maintenance work done by the CCWUA during the first half of the year on the drainage and irrigation canals in Crabwood Creek, although it had engaged (contracted) the CCWUA to carry out the work by providing six-month contracts.
The CCWUA, in turn, had reportedly been sub-contracting the project to villagers, ensuring that employment is provided to stakeholders and that they are the ones executing the contracts.
The contract between the NDIA and the CCWUA expired on December 31, 2016, but the CCWUA kept the workers it had contracted on the job for the past six months, hoping that the NDIA would renew the contract. To date, that contract has not been renewed.
Acting manager of the CCWUA, Sasenarine Kumar, has said the NDIA is still to respond to the CCWUA request that the contract be renewed, made since January 2017. “For 2017, we requested for contracts, but they did not respond to us as yet. When we spoke with officials at the NDIA, they say that the contract is at Cabinet and they are waiting for a ‘no objection’ to proceed.”
Kumar has said that, as of July 2017, the CCWUA would not be able to hold the contractors, thus no maintenance work would be done on the irrigation canals in Crabwood Creek. “All the canals will be silted up, and the farming community will punish in Crabwood Creek,” the CCWUA boss has revealed. Many of the canals in the Crabwood Creek community are used by farmers to transport their produce from the farm to areas where they are marketed.
“We have canals in Crabwood Creek that are in excellent condition and all of the farms were flooded for five days. If the canals can’t (be cleaned), it might be three of four weeks that they will be flooded (for) if the rain continues,” Kumar disclosed. He
said the CCWUA does not have money to pay the contractors for work done from January to June 2017.
According to one contractor, Surijlall Sahadeo, the NDIA urgently needs to pay the CCWUA, so that the contractors can be paid. “If they don’t (maintain) the canal, it will cost them more. This is because if it is left unattended for six weeks it will become totally blocked with weeds, especially in this weather… And when the canal is blocked, you would have to send a machine to clean it, because you can’t do manual maintenance any longer. So it will cost the taxpayers and the Government more money to pay for the maintenance,” he explained.
According to Kumar, at a rate of pay of between $19 and $21.50 per rod, the CCWUA contractors earn the least money to carry out manual maintenance work on the canals. “So it helps the Government and saves taxpayers (money),” he pointed out.