Prime Minister responds to Georgetown Mayor

I’ve noted the rush by the Mayor and City Council of Georgetown to respond to my statement issued last evening, deploring the suffering of residents across the city, who are once again plagued by flooding caused in no small measure by the mismanagement of the city’s drainage and other infrastructure.

Last night I placed Mayor Narine and his Council on notice that the government’s patience is wearing thin; today, I further caution His Worship that our government does not take the suffering of its citizens lightly neither will we continue to suffer mismanagement of the city in perpetuity.

No amount of deflection of this troubling issue from the M&CC will absolve them from the responsibility for the plight of residents across the city caused by preventable flooding, while the mayor continues to engage in foolish posturing and gamesmanship, even as inclement weather persists, and the mismanagement continues stubbornly and unabated.

I will not entertain the M&CCs deflection tactics embodied in their smokescreen-laced response to my statement that are clearly intended to shift the focus of the extant issue of the preventable suffering of residents, but will instead hasten to refresh the record to ensure that our concerns as the central government are properly contextualised. In so doing, I will highlight a few of the critical steps taken and measures implemented towards the fulfillment of our electoral mandate since the PPP/C returned to office.

In 2021, the government deployed $8.4 billion worth of investments to enhance drainage systems across Regions Two, Three, Four, Six and 10. In addition to this sum invested directed by central government, the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) continues to deploy additional pumps and diesel directly to the city administration to the tune of some 700 million annually. Meanwhile, the mayor and his cohorts continue to stubbornly refuse to have the NDIA take over responsibility for the city’s pumps, to mitigate the impact of their incompetence that continues to result in catastrophic consequences for residents.

Late last year, following resounding unanswered calls to the M&CC from residents and vendors across the city for preemptive steps to be taken to avoid flooding as the rainy season approached, the government responded. Under the direct leadership of His Excellency, President, Dr Irfaan Ali, government agencies and local government bodies, along with military and para-military service men and women collaborated with the private sector, civil society and community groups to embark on a city-wide clean up and desilting exercise. The mayor and his party councillors refused to participate, while their political directorate in the APNU camp called for an outright boycott of the exercise. Notwithstanding their pathetic anti-nationalist stance, the campaign quickly spread across the country with residents across the political divide getting involved. Our technical teams have indicated that the city would have avoided any significant flooding this year as a result of that exercise, were it not for the persistent incompetence of the City Council in managing the drainage systems and infrastructure designed to efficiently drain off rainfall.

In March of this year, the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development announced a $40 million injection into a gas management system to reduce stench at the Haags Bosch landfill site. This was in addition to the $500 million invested by the government in solid waste management in 2021, given its cruciality to the prevention of flooding in the city.

And, just last month, Local Government Minister, Nigel Dharamlall issued calls for Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) in Regions Four and Five to immediately identify sites for temporary landfills to allow for expedited solid waste management as part of government’s ongoing efforts to play an active role in mitigating flooding, while we build out the supporting infrastructure.

Instead of simply deflecting, Mayor Narine would do the city well to quickly pivot his council and the city administration away from the dereliction-of-duty posture; from the wanton spending on non-priority areas, abandon altogether the illegal attempts to dispose of city lands and other assets and refocus his efforts to mitigate flooding which results in suffering by the city’s residents. I remain open to meeting with His Worship Mayor, Ubraj Narine at the earliest opportunity, to once and for all arrive at solutions to the current management challenges associated with the effective operations of the kokers and drainage pumps that are crucial to the city’s strategy to reduce flooding in Georgetown.

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