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Bill to strengthen Guyana’s sea & river defence management passed in National Assembly

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…will now introduce better flood management amid La Nina

Flooding has been experienced in Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) over the past week

A bill aimed at bolstering Guyana’s ability to implement sea and river defences was on Friday passed in the National Assembly, with the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government receiving bipartisan support in its passage.
During the 82nd sitting of the 12th Parliament, Public Works Minister Juan Edghill rose to present the Sea and River Defence Bill (2024). He explained that the bill has been a long time in the works, as far back as 2019 in fact, when technical work was done to update the existing legislation.
“This is something that has been going on for a while. It has moved from one government in office to another government in office. The facts will show that, by 2019, with funding from the 11th European Union/EDF (European Defense Fund), a consultancy was engaged. They essentially worked on updating what was before two separate pieces of legislation: Chapter 64:01 and Chapter 64:02, and bringing that into one legislation and ensuring that the updated version reflects the realities of our current situation,” Minister Edghill detailed.
According to Edghill, the current bill seeks to refine the work on the law that was started, and finalise the passage of the bill. Edghill was optimistic there would be bipartisan support in getting the bill passed.
“The vulnerabilities of Guyana’s coastal territories to flooding necessitates the establishment of effective administrative and governance frameworks to ensure integrated and sustainable flood management,” Edghill declared. “In this regard, the Government of Guyana, in recognising the importance of effective flood management functions and systems in the national context, wishes to introduce new legislation to strengthen the management of Guyana’s sea and river defences.”
Edghill further explained that the bill would introduce a system of flood management planning to ensure all defences are properly identified, designed, and maintained, while at the same time enhancing public participation and consultation.
Lending support to the bill, Minister within the Ministry of Public Works, Hon. Deodat Indar, MP, pointed out that the legislation is necessary for the continued investment into sea and river defences.
Expounding on the need for robust sea defences for agricultural development, Agriculture Minister the Honourable Zulfikar Mustapha said Government has identified the issues farmers have faced owing to flooding, and was adamant this legislation supports the resolution to the problem.
“Over 1,000 acres of rice adjacent to the sea defence was flooded in 2019, and has not been cultivated since…this is how we operate: we identify, we analyze, and we fix the problem,” he said.
“This bill lays the groundwork for proactive [work] to fortify our coastline…the bill acknowledges the essential value of our ecosystem and the irreplaceable benefits [to come] for our environment and communities,” Minister Mustapha added.
It was only a few days ago that the flood situation in Region Nine (Upper Takutu—Upper Essequibo) began showing signs of improvement after heavy flooding, with water levels gradually decreasing in several affected areas. Notably, villages in the North Rupununi and South Pakaraima districts, such as Nappi and Kumu, are witnessing a decline in floodwaters, as reported by Public Information Officer of the Civil Defence Commission (CDC), Patrice Wishart, in an interview with <<Guyana Times>>.
According to Wishart, while progress is evident in these regions, obstacles persist, with some villages still inaccessible due to severely damaged roads. Beyond Region Nine, other areas, including Regions One (Barima-Waini); Six (East Berbice-Corentyne); Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) and Eight (Potaro-Siparuni), have also experienced flood impacts. However, comprehensive details regarding the extent of the damage are not yet available.
The CDC has been actively monitoring the situation and coordinating response efforts. Recent reports from the Hydromet Service have indicated that heavy rainfall has inundated several villages in Region Nine.
Toka, Massara, Yakarinta, Aranaputa Valley, Karasabai, Tiger Pond, Sand Creek, Karaudarnau and Katoonarib are among the worst affected, with floodwaters reaching alarming levels, submerging roads and engulfing homes. (G3)

The post Bill to strengthen Guyana’s sea & river defence management passed in National Assembly appeared first on Guyana Times.

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