The May/June rainy period is expected to have similar conditions in 2021, with the possibility of flooding, and Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mustapha has assured residents from several communities in the Port Mourant area that the government is working to put systems in place to avoid a repeat of what took place last year.
Minister Mustapha and a team from his Ministry on Saturday met with residents to listen to the issues affecting them.
According to the Agriculture Minister, the government is working with various regional bodies, including the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA), to put systems in place to avoid flooding.
“I’ve received reports that the internal drains are clogged up. Even if we clear the main canals, if the internal drains are clogged up, the water will not drain. I will ask our engineers to organize and send a small team back to the area to look at the drainage issues. I will also assign a small machine to clean all the drains as soon as the recommendations from the engineers,” the Minister explained.
Residents who turned out to the meeting at Ankerville told the Minister that they see the efforts being made at the level of the Central Government to improve the lives of the citizens and called on the Neighborhood Democratic Councils (NDC) to step up and play their part.
The residents also complained that when reports are made to the NDC, no action is taken and that the Councillors have not been working in the best interest of those residing in the community.
Minister Mustapha explained that the government was aware that there were issues with many NDCs and that they are committed to assisting as many of these bodies, which do not have the resources to function due to many persons not paying their rates and taxes.
However, the Minister maintained that this should not stop the NDC from performing its functions, adding that the Central Government will assist with works in the communities.
“Both the President and the Vice President have been imploring this, since the inception of NDCs; that those councillors should go out into the communities and meet with the people. We know that revenue collection remains an issue for the NDCs, but that doesn’t mean that Central Government wouldn’t act. We will try as much as possible to assist with community issues," the Minister said.
He continued, "You also complained about your streets. When the President and Vice President were here, they said that these small internal streets would be done. The Ministry of Public Works is now doing force account whereby the Public Works team is doing the work themselves. All these small alleyways and parapets are being done in concrete asphalt. That programme has already commenced in the 52-74 area.”
Residents also complained about being attacked by bees in the area. They informed the Minister that many vacant lots in the area with overgrown bushes had become a haven for bees.
While addressing this concern, Minister Mustapha noted that similar cases are being reported across the country. He told the residents that the vacant lots are often owned by persons residing overseas and that the Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA) has been working to address the issue.
He said that the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development was working to ensure these areas were clear of garbage and old machinery because bees tend to develop hives in these environments.
Residents also raised issues about the ongoing flood-relief programme and told the Minister that many persons are still awaiting relief.
Minister Mustapha assured that many persons from the region are still on the list to receive assistance and that his Ministry was working with the Ministry of Finance to complete the distribution of funds soon.
While acknowledging that there were issues with the distribution process, Minister Mustapha said that action would be taken against persons found guilty of colluding with residents to defraud the government. He also assured residents that, once they suffered losses, they would receive assistance from the government.
Meetings were also held in Bound Yard, Area ‘R’, and Phoebe, where residents raised similar concerns. Minister Mustapha assured those in attendance that the Ministry would work with the regional officials to have these issues and concerns addressed as soon as possible.