October 24, 2021

INFO 10

THE TRUTH IN BLACK AND WHITE

Drainage works commence in West Watooka following Agri. Minister’s visit

– regional engineers to compile needs assessment reports to guide Ministry’s work programme

Days after a ministerial outreach to several areas in Region 10 where residents pleaded for urgent improvements to their drainage and irrigation systems, the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) has commenced works to have a number of drains and canals cleared.

During the visit, Agriculture Minister, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha met with farmers and residents in West Watooka to get a clear understanding of some of the issues they were facing. Generally, the farmers complained about the inadequate drainage system in the community, adding that for a number of years no works have been done to clear or maintain any of the drainage channels and structures in the area.

After listening to several farmers raise similar issues, Minister Mustapha committed to having a machine sent to the area to commence works within a week. Three days after the outreach, an NDIA excavator arrived in the area and subsequently commenced works in West Watooka.

Minister Mustapha, while offering follow-up remarks on the visit and the works presently being executed, said the Ministry will continue to operate in a way that, over time, will regain the trust and confidence of farmers across the country.

“When I visited the area, it was very clear that for a number of years, areas like these were seriously neglected. The Ministry is currently carrying out a number of works across the country but I was able to speak with the head of the NDIA to have a machine sent here urgently, after seeing for myself how the farmers were suffering. Given the amount of funds expended in this Region to execute works of this nature over the past few years, the situation should’ve been different. As Minister, I want farmers to have a supportive environment, and we have to ensure their requests and met to the best of our abilities,” Minister Mustapha said.

Minister Mustapha added that going forward, Regional engineers will be tasked with compiling needs assessments reports of works needed in their respective Regions. This, he said, will be used to properly plan the work programme for the year ahead.

“If we want results, we have to be proactive. I’ve instructed the engineers to speak with the farmers, conduct these needs assessment reports and submit them to their respective agency head so that we can be guided accordingly when planning works for the following year. It shouldn’t be a case where, when we visit, there is a whole lot of works needed and we have to tell farmers that funds are not available. If we really want to see development and growth in the agriculture sector, we have to get out there and do the ground work and plan effectively,” Minister Mustapha said. (Department of Public Information)