GWI Head decries damage caused by illegal miners

first_imgWith interventions from the regional administration; the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) and the Guyana Police Force (GPF) proving to be ineffective, Guyana Water Inc (GWI) Managing Director, Dr Richard Van West-Charles is now calling on residents in Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni) to get involved in protecting the company’s infrastructure that ensured a stable water supply.Speaking at an emergency press conference on Wednesday, Dr Van West-Charles told media operatives that while GWI would have already engaged the relevant agencies on the matter, the harmful activities have escalated thus negatively impacting the distribution system in Mahdia.“This is now specifically in the Waterdog area in Mahdia … these are wilful breaks to have the water wash down for these illegal miners. A lot of these activities occur between midnight and the wee hours of the morning. We’re seeking to collaborate with the regional administration, GGMC and the Police, but it’s really getting out of control and we now need the community to be involved in helping to stem this type of illegal activity so that the system can be sustainable and restored to serve the population,” Van West-Charles posited.According to the GWI Head, to rectify the damage a cost of approximately $2 million must be incurred, an expense which was not in the budget.“So, it’s something [for] which we need community involvement and all hands on deck, because it’s a continuing activity where you see these breakages. We’ve had to send crew in from Georgetown to assist in dealing with the leaks; these are wilful leaks introduced across the distribution system to access water for the illegal mining activities. At one time, we had over 100 leaks and we sent two crews in from Shelter Belt to correct it…,” the Managing Director noted.With only one transmission line serving the town of Mahdia, Dr Van West-Charles went on to note that if this pipeline was damaged, it would affect water services to the area; hence the need to immediately arrest these illegal activities.Further, he mentioned that another negative impact of illegal mining related to the type of chemicals used that could potentially cause harm to residents utilising water from the breached transmission system.In fact, he posited that only recently, “elevated levels of mercury” were found in one of the main sources of water for residents in Port Kaituma, Region One.On the other hand, GWI Planning and Implementation Director Ramchand Jailall also spoke about the effects the chemicals used by illegal miners can have on the quality of water that is transmitted to residents in the Mahdia area.“We need to work with the communities because we don’t know what chemicals these miners are using and if those chemicals get into the pipes, it could get to the communities and these same miners will have families residing in Mahdia and they won’t want chemicals, which are dangerous to your health,, get into the lines and then get to your family members or friends or your loved ones so that is one of the risks that is facing us right now,” Jailall highlighted.According to the Planning and Implementation Director, the illegal miners usually use chisels and hammers to puncture the pipelines and while these might be small holes at first, the water pressure running through these lines would expand the breakages and cause more severe damage. Moreover, Jailall noted that GWI’s equipment was specialised to fix leakages and when there were enlarged breaches, then they were forced to remove and replace that entire piece of pipe, disrupting water transmission to communities.Meanwhile, Dr Van West-Charles lamented that investing in more resources was not just feasible when the illegal activities continued and more damage was done to GWI infrastructure. To this end, he posited that the water company may need to adopt more “high tech” options such as the use of drones to monitor its infrastructure. On this note too, he urged the relevant authorities such as GGMC and the Police Force to also invest in such resources that would enhance their efforts to arrest not just illegal mining but other illicit activities throughout the hinterland region.In addition to enhanced surveillance, the GWI Head suggested that those authorities can also look at increasing the sanctions as a deterrent against illegal mining.last_img

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