Georgetown, Guyana – (March 7, 2018) Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon, today, visited the villages of Leonora, Meten-Meer-Zorg and Uitvlugt where he assured the Chairman and Councillors of the Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) as well as residents that the Government will provide all the resources at its disposal to ensure that normalcy is restored to the communities after the recent flooding, caused by severe overtopping of the sea defences on the West Coast of Demerara, Essequibo Islands-West Demerara (Region Three).
Minister Harmon, who first stopped at the Civil Defence Commission’s (CDC) Shelter at the Uitvlugt Community Centre ground, said that the Government is committed to bringing relief to the residents. “It is our responsibility to ensure that all citizens are given equal distribution of services and treated in a just and equitable manner and anything short of that is not fulfilling the mandate of our Government,” he said.
Over at the Uitvlugt NDC Office, Minister Harmon met with the Chairman, Mr. Vishal Ambekar and several of the councillors and village representatives to discuss the impact of the flooding and the availability of resources.
Following that meeting, he said, “I came to respond to some calls made by some parts of the community that they were not being properly resourced by central Government so I came here this afternoon. There were some concerns about resources but it wasn’t a matter of not resourcing them but a matter of timings for things to be done so I have given some guidance as to how the matter should be dealt with. I have given some guidance as to the cleaning in one of the communities and I have also given the undertaking to the NDC that I will stay in touch with them to ensure that all of the services, which are provided to the communities are equitably done.”
Additionally, Minister Harmon told the community representatives that while Government has a responsibility to its citizens to address issues that affect their lives, they too must take personal responsibility to ensure that they keep their environment clean, particularly in the light of the effects of climate change and global warming.
“It is important that the communities also bear some responsibility for what happens in their boundaries. So what that means is that they have to clean their drains, they have to ensure that they keep their surroundings clean. There are some things over, which we have no control. That is nature. So what I am seeing in my view is the effect of global warming and climate change and so as a nation we have to prepare for that,” he said.
Thus far, floodwaters have receded in all of the affected communities and the regional administration has been lending assistance to residents in their clean-up efforts. Minister Harmon also visited the Leonora Cottage Hospital, which was also affected by the flooding, forcing the Ministry of Public Health to relocate health services to the Den Amstel, Uitvlugt and De Kendren Health Centres on 24-hours operations. In a brief address to the staff of the hospital, who have undertaken the clean-up efforts at the facility, Minister Harmon said that the Government is heartened by their efforts. The hospital is expected to be back in operation in the new week.
“On behalf of the Government we want to thank you for the work in making this hospital functional again so that persons can use this facility. I have asked the administration to put systems in place and I ask that you work together to maintain this facility at a high standard. A few months ago I was here with the President and since then, I can see that the standards have improved significantly and I want to ask that you continue that work,” he said.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Communities, Mr. Emil McGarrell, who accompanied Minister Harmon on the visit, also assured the residents that the Ministry is prepared to lend assistance where necessary and to provide whatever resources it can at this time.
Mr. Ambekar, NDC Chairman, expressed gratitude to Minister Harmon for visiting the community so quickly despite only returning to Guyana yesterday. “We would like to thank you very much for taking time out to visit us and our community and listening to and addressing some of our concerns,” he said.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig, acting Director General of the CDC, said that the Commission continues to lend assistance to the affected communities and has been tasked with ensuring that detailed assessments are carried out in the communities to determine the extent of losses.
Further, the Commission is working with the Central Government and regional administration to arrange appropriate housing arrangements for the three families, who lost their homes in the Sea View, Stewartville area.
Minister Harmon has also promised to visit the community at a later date to meet with the residents and to address other concerns, which they may have.