COME tomorrow, the Government of Guyana will be utilising the resumption of the sitting of the National Assembly to seek $10 billion in supplementary funding to address issues stemming from the ongoing floods, which have affected more than 25,000 households in at least 300 communities countrywide.
According to Vice-President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, the additional monies will be used to rebuild and repair public infrastructures such as roads and bridges that have been destroyed by floodwater. Earlier in the week, Public Works Minister, Juan Edghill told the Guyana Chronicle that a countrywide assessment was underway to determine the level of damage that was done, and to estimate the cost of emergency repairs. During a broadcast programme aired on Monday night via “GlobeSpan 24x 7”, Dr. Jagdeo said that the funds at reference will also enable the government to respond to the needs of those whose livelihoods have been devastated by this unprecedented flooding.
“It would help us to give enough help to the farmers; the miners, all of those who have had their livelihoods disrupted, so we can give them some help to get back to productive activities,” the Vice-President posited.
He said, too, that a portion of the monies will be spent on intensifying the government’s ongoing flood-relief efforts, which has seen the distribution of some 30,000 food, sanitary and medical hampers. Farmers have also been assisted with seeds, feed and other necessities for their crops and livestock.
“I can understand the level of frustration and the concerns that people have, but I can assure people that the government will assist,” Jagdeo asserted.
The Member of Parliament also referenced the role of the Northern Relief Channel at Hope/Dochfour, on the East Coast Demerara, which has continued to safeguard Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) from the possibility of any catastrophic flooding.
In its early stages, the project, widely referred to as ‘Hope Canal’, had been heavily criticised by members of the Opposition, and some groups who all said that the discharge channel “would not work”.
With Guyana situated below sea-level, Jagdeo said that the country’s infrastructural transformation will have to be done in a manner which seeks to mitigate the impacts of climate change.
Specifically, Jagdeo related the government’s intention to “open up” more savannah lands in Berbice, which he said will have to be done in such a way as to safeguard persons and their investments from the threat of flooding. “[We] will have to build bypass canals,” the Vice-President noted.
He projected that so far, it is likely that the floods have put a massive dent in the country’s economy, which has managed to record positive growth, even amidst a global health crisis.
“More importantly, this loss represents a devastating impact at the personal level, because people see their entire livelihood washed away or damaged,” Jagdeo said.
Asked to provide an update on the current weather projections, the Vice-President said, “We have had unusual levels of rainfall and extreme high tides, and tomorrow, I am told, the next wave of high tides will start. This will further complicate matters; the forecast is ‘iffy’. We hope that the rain will subside, so that we can return to economic activities.”