— preliminary assessment reveals; Minister Edgehill underscores need for climate-resilient structures
THE Ministry of Public Works has completed a preliminary assessment of the infrastructural damage caused by the ongoing countrywide floods. According to subject minister, Juan Edghill, the recorded damage has amounted to billions of dollars.
The minister declined to specify the impact in financial terms, but noted that the ministry will be focusing on executing emergency repairs to the most critical structures. The cost of these works is expected to be offset as part of a $10 billion supplementary budget which is being requested in the National Assembly today, Thursday.
Minister Edghill said that it is unlikely that the public works allocation from the supplementary budget will be able to cover all of the works that need to be done and as a result, the ministry will have to prioritise its work.
He told the Guyana Chronicle during a brief interview, that the ongoing floods have underscored the need to pursue infrastructural transformation in a manner that is climate-resilient, especially as it relates to flooding.
“Those considerations existed before these floods, but this experience now has made those necessities more pronounced, because you are now able to see how fragile these structures are, and how easily they can be destroyed.” Edghill posited.
In providing more specifics, the minister indicated the need for Guyana to replace all of its wooden bridges and culvert with sturdy concrete structures. “We have to make up our minds. It is going to cost a lot, but we got to start building them in concrete,” Edghill said.
He noted that the public infrastructure of almost all of the flooded regions have been heavily affected, and will benefit from urgent remedies.
As it relates to ongoing infrastructural projects, Minister Edghill has indicated that all of these have been affected due to the floods. He maintained however, that contractors have not stopped working, but have managed to put systems in place to ensure that they move ahead with other aspects of their work, which are not heavily dependent on good weather conditions.
“Nothing is stalled; affected, but not stalled. They’re trying to do other things… because of the rain and flooding, we can’t get to do paving; we can’t put down the asphalt or do concrete where there is water; that is the difficulty we’re faced with,” Minister Edghill said in a previous interview with the Guyana Chronicle.
The minister, who has visited several of the flooded communities, expressed hope that the devastating floods, which is in its third week, would end soon, so that those affected can begin to heal and rebuild. “Hopefully we can go into recovery very soon,” Edghill anticipated.
He reminded that ever since the floods began, the government has been able to activate and deploy its emergency response teams to address the immediate needs of those affected. These efforts continue to be led by President Irfaan Ali, who has been visiting various communities to engage residents on their needs and concerns, so that sufficient relief can be mobilised.
“I admire the proactive, visionary and resolute leadership of President Irfaan Ali… I think he has his hands on it,” Minister Edghill added.