- Minister Persaud inspects areas cleared for construction of channel
Georgetown, GINA, February 16, 2011
Minister of Agriculture, Robert Persaud, along with engineers today inspected resumption of clearing works for the East Demerara Water Conservancy's (EDWC's) Northern Relief Channel at Hope/Dochfour, East Coast Demerara.
The construction recommenced on February 5 with seven pieces of equipment, six excavators and one bulldozer being employed to clear the area of vegetation.
The entire area, from Crown Dam to the Public Road, is estimated to be 10.3 kilometres (km) and Minister Persaud, during his inspection of the progress of work at the front half of the Hope canal advised that a significant portion of the area has been cleared. The canal's width is 300 feet.
More machinery will be employed to clear the remainder of the area but Minister Persaud advised that this cannot be done now as the La Nina weather conditions still prevail.
"Starting this weekend on 20th (February) we launch the public tenders for the sluices as well as the outfall," Minister Persaud said.
He added that there will also be a bridge spanning the canal.
The work is proceeding according to plans and the Minister noted that this is being undertaken with direction from a combination of experts from the United Kingdom and Guyana.
"This project, as we have all pointed out, will have immense value in terms of adapting to climate change, preventing wide-spread flooding as would happen once the conservancy is under stress and you have to release water into the Mahaicony and Mahaica areas, as well as reduce the vulnerability of the East Coast and even the Georgetown areas," he said.
He added that should the dam of the conservancy collapse along any village on the East Coast, it can prove catastrophic and the new relief channel will provide the long-term assurance that government will be able to manage the effects of climate change as well. It will also have the capacity to store more water.
The Minister noted that water storage is an important aspect of the project, adding that government is also mulling future plans for the site, that of its water treatment capabilities so as to supply potable water to the East Coast communities.
Government has expended close to $1 billion thus far on the project, significantly less than what the project would have cost had it been out sourced.
The total project time is projected at 18 months, however; the Minister stated that the weather patterns have to be taken into account as it will impinge on the works that are to be carried out beyond Crown Dam.
He stated that quality control is an important factor, ensuring that works are being carried out to specifications. This is being done by an external consulting firm.
"Even as we are doing the work and we know that we are capable of doing the work, we want to assure the public that whatever we do fits the design standards but, also that we do quality work even when we are doing it ourselves and not only when contractors are doing it," the Minister said.
He noted that the cost of the project is what is estimated that the country can lose in one year in agriculture should a major flood occur, and that the project will pay back for itself.
"About US$15M is estimated that we will lose if there was one massive flood and, this project is about that value," Minister Persaud stated.
He said that the farmers, who were occupying the cleared area, have already been compensated in excess of $110M.
"Not because it was government land we moved ahead and just started, we also looked at the human side of it, people were planting here for many years and we have also looked at alternative land …as we have done with that section of the housing scheme," he assured.
Meanwhile, designs of the structures have been completed and will include a concrete public road bridge at Hope/Dochfour, conservancy head regulator and high level sluice outfall structure.