Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Kaieteur News attempting to discredit efforts, investment by government

Omadatt Chandan: I wish to respond to a ‘Kaieteur Newspaper’ article dated Monday July 20, 2009 titled “$78M pump station laughable – Canal residents” which is biased, prejudicial and seeks to discredit the work of the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA).

NDIA is of the opinion that there is a concerted effort on the part of this particular newspaper to discredit the efforts and investment of the government based on the numerous slanted reports on drainage facilities throughout the ten regions of our country. Although, the Authority is happy for persons to be enthused about the upkeep and management of its facilities, we strongly suggest that the newspaper seek clarification before making such heavily biased reports. Perhaps, the newspaper has some agenda for targeting the agriculture sector.

This year we saw the highest budgetary allocation for the improvement and maintenance of the drainage and irrigation systems.

As such, the $78M pump station at Canals Polder that was recently commissioned was part of the Ministry of Agriculture’s drive to aid and assist farmers during the rainy season.

At present, the pumps that were installed have the capacity to significantly increase drainage during periods of high tide when the sluice cannot be opened.

However, the pumps because of its enormous potential cannot be opened continuously since the intake channel needs excavation and squatters who are living on the feeder canal are posing a problem in effectively excavating this channel. It is important to note that efforts are being made by the respective agency to remove the squatters expeditiously.

The Stanleytown Pump Station was established in the 1980s and had become dysfunctional about two decades ago but at the behest of farmers; Government had moved to re-commission the pump station.

During the last rainy season, the Canals Polder was adversely affected by accumulation of water in farmlands and residential areas prompting the Government to initiate a programme to protect these vulnerable farmlands and communities.

As such, the Agriculture Export Diversification Programme (ADP) under the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) which has a component that provides for drainage and irrigation was initiated in order to protect these areas.

At present, the Ministry of Agriculture with support from the Inter American Development Bank (IDB), is undertaking the complete rehabilitation of the major drainage system. As early as late February, earthen works began for the total rehabilitation of the drainage infrastructure with a view to increasing the drainage capacity as they were seen as vulnerable. This was in keeping with a promise made earlier by the government as some farmers were faced with some hardships during the December/January period.

Currently, seven excavators, one dragline and a bulldozer from NDIA’s fleet of equipment are working in these areas to build dams and to widen and deepen waterways.

NDIA has recognized that during rainy periods, the access dams to farmlands often become deplorable and has moved to buy equipment in order to fix these dams. Just last month, a $34M bulldozer was purchased and was immediately dispatched to these areas in our effort to aid the farmers. These dams are now 90% completed and farmers can now have access as well as using the dam for transportation purposes.

Some $1.5B has also been invested in drainage and irrigation in La Jalousie, the Canals Polder, and Vreed-en-Hoop. With respect to the Kaieteur newspapers claiming that the amount of money spent is laughable according to residents, NDIA wishes to bring to the attention of the public that this particular pump was manufactured in Miami and a contract was awarded through the national competitiveness bidding process.

With respect to the sum misrepresented by this newspaper, the scope of works include the installation of two new trash racks, new 95Hp right angle gear drive, new 450 HP diesel engine, new 150 cu.sec line shaft pump, construction of new pump house, extraction of hydroflow pump end and installation of new oil cooler, construction of perimeter fence, installation of new 42 inches diameter pipe works, rebuilding and installation of hydroflow discharge pipe works. The documentation is available and perhaps the newspaper may want to do its own investigation into the cost structure and advise the Ministry of Agriculture.

Over the weekend, it is a fact that some areas in Canals Polder were inundated but this situation was soon brought under control quickly as the sluice was put into operation and in a limited way, the pump station which had to be turned off as the squatters’ encumbrance is preventing the flow.

NDIA will continue to support the many farmers that live in the Canals Polder area and be subject itself to fair and just scrutiny. In fact, the Minister’s recent decision to publish all projects for media and public scrutiny was intended to invite the public’s constructive feedback. Where else is this done?

1 comment:

  1. This has become a normal thing with kaieteur news.
    If is nah wrong news they printing is something else!!