Tony Vieira's Comments
18 October 2017

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High Tides October 2005
(Aired 19 October 2005)

    On October 17th 2005 Guyana woke up to the news that extremely high tides were causing flooding on the East and West Coasts of Demerara.

    But it was with total astonishment and disbelief that I looked at The Evening News on the evening of the 17th and discovered that everything was being blamed on the high tides by the executive as if it was acceptable for the sea defences to be crumbling under the circumstances.

   The current misMinister of Agriculture Satadeo Shaw actually kept repeating, like a broken record, that what was happening was a result of the highest tides we have ever had and gave the impression that there was nothing else to be done but to bear strain until it went away.

   It is total nonsense, lies and eye pass since I say, that what we saw yesterday were the consequences of corruption, incompetence and total disregard for the citizens of this country by its elected officials.

    Earlier this year after the floods on the East Coast a Task Force was established to look into the drainage situation in Region 4 with specific reference to the structures which were built years ago, to relieve the Lama Conservancy water into the Demerara River if the conservancy ever rose too high as a result of high rainfall, but had become useless and unusable with disastrous results. In addition to the conservancy situation however the Task Force was mandated to look into the maintenance of kokers and drainage canals along the East Coast in Region 4.

    Sadly at some point in time after the public outrage had died down and people started to go about their business and usual and the hype of the occasion passed, the government dissolved the Task Force  and passed back the job of renovating the system to the same incompetent and corrupt officials who created the conditions for the disaster in the first place, and so the Task Force handed over its findings and its work to the D&I Chairman Ravi Narine, who publicly stated that he would be responsible for finishing the work of the Task Force.

   Now for those who do not know, the Drainage and irrigation Board comes under the portfolio of the Ministry of Agriculture in this case Satadeo Shaw. This means that the ultimate responsibility for what happened along the East and West Coasts of Demerara yesterday was ultimately Shaw's responsibility.

    In the case of the East Coast, a koker at BV/Triumph collapsed and I could see the rotten wood of the door in the pictures that The Evening News took of the situation, also I am informed that the grooves that holds the door in place on the concrete koker structure is eroded to the extent that it could not hold the temporary door that was put in place on the 17th October and that too blew out so the water that was flooding the residents of the East Coast was not what was coming over the top of the sea wall, but what was coming through a fourteen foot koker the door which had been literally blown out because it was rotten and because the grooves are worn down.

  The truth of what I say is evidenced by the fact that it was only at this point on the East Coast at Triumph/BV that there was flooding, no where else was there was any flooding but everywhere there was this overtopping!! So my conclusion is solid and that makes Shaw's remarks that the flooding was due to the high water coming over the top of the sea wall utter nonsense and totally unacceptable.

  And it is Shaw that is the person responsible for the collapsed koker door at Triumph/BV which was the main reason for the huge amount of water we saw rushing in on to the poor residents there and not the relatively small amount of spray that what was coming over the top of the wall; anyone who has ever seen a koker open to the ocean will never forget it, to see that amount of salt water 10-11 feet high and 12-14 feet wide coming in at 30-35 miles an hour and would push a truck out of its path as if it were a toy will understand what I am saying, it is a frightening sight. And you can do nothing but pray that the tide turns quickly so that the water can go down to allow you to carry out some sort of corrective operation as happened in this case, but since the groves of the structure itself were worn out, the temporary door also blew out around 2 PM on the 17th causing more damage to people's property; I get angry when I see it ladies and gentlemen, these completely ignorant people running around the place telling the population total nonsense and our reporters and our Media [even mine] and the very people whose properties are literally floating away, are all standing there accepting this ridiculous explanation! And they have to accept it, because there is no law in the land, no functioning legal system that we can invoke which can give us satisfaction; do you think that this can happen if we can carry Shaw to court and get a billion dollars in damages? Of course not. And that may be the saddest thing of all, that the residents affected will never be compensated because Shaw and Narine will never be held accountable under the law for their incompetence.

   What we saw on the West Coast was something completely different, what we saw there was the Ocean demolishing the sea defences over an area estimated to be close to two thousand feet and spoke ill of the regional administration and the D&I Board and the Ministry of Agriculture in Region 3.  

   In the national annual budget the government's allocation of money to do works is supposed to be conducted in a manner which ensures that the funds are spent where it is most needed and it was criminal negligence to allow the sea wall on the West Coast to get to the stage where the Ocean can blow it away as if it were cardboard and here again let us draw from what we saw on the East Coast sure the water was hitting the wall and misting into the air but the wall held, nowhere on the East Coast did it completely collapse as we saw in the West Coast, so it was incompetence and neglect and not mother nature which was dealing us a blow we were incapable of handling. 

    After the PPP came to power in 1992 they made a man called Pariag Shkhai Regional Chairman in Region 3 and after him they made Dookie a schoolteacher from hog island Regional Chairman, now whatever else you want to say about Region 4, its chairman Allan Munroe is an engineer and notwithstanding his being systematically starved for money he has managed to force the national bodies to keep the sea defences in some sort of functioning condition in region 4, but on my side of the river Sukhai the chairman from 1992 to 2001 was a PPP activist and I am unable to determine what else he was qualified to do, what I do know was that for most of his time as chairman Shkhai could hardly see the man was legally blind and then came Dookie who became chairman in 2001and he is too busy doing other things to even look, much less see now we all heard him telling us on the news that the water was tapping over the sea wall, I hope that Dookie did not teach English in Hog Island, since the correct word is topping over i.e. Dookie; the water was coming over the top and not the tap.

   The public will recall that recently the PNC had held a protest at Parika since this same Dookie, who has been implicated in numerous corrupt practices, had given his brother a contract for 58 million dollars to build a market for the roadside vendors at Parika and what is visible after the contract was completed could not possibly be worth 58 million dollars.

    Incompetent and corrupt regional chairmen in Region 3 since 1992 is what has caused the disaster we all saw on the 17 October 2005, on the west Coast sea defences, we have a highway which was recently renovated on the West Demerara my question again was why did we need such a fancy road on the West Demerara? What was wrong with the old one? Why did we not spend the money where it was really needed, on the sea defences, now thousands will have to suffer as a result!!