Water, water everywhere


Water, water everywhere

Observer senior reporter

Friday, October 09, 2020

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WITH eight weeks left before the end of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, motorists are experiencing several inconveniences brought on by the inclement weather activity.

The National Works Agency (NWA) second cycle of its islandwide drain-cleaning activities was scheduled to begin at the end of September. The first phase commenced in April to May at a cost of $100 million.

At the end of August, chief executive officer (CEO) of the NWA, EG Hunter, assured the public then that the second cycle would begin in September.

“That normally corresponds with the peak of the hurricane season, which is somewhere around September 12 to the middle of October. So we are fortunate that the drain-cleaning activities we carried out in April-May would have attenuated some of the impact of the recent rains,” he said at the time.

However, Marcus Garvey Drive in Kingston has become the symbol of a problem which occurs at the end of every summer, as water from storm-aided rainfalls both block and break up the main roads, including some very important highways, leaving enormous damage to the thoroughfare and increased costs to flooded buildings.

Since August, Marcus Garvey Drive has been flooded at least twice and, like other sections of the Kingston Metropolitan Area (KMA) and rural areas communities in St Thomas and Clarendon.

There are lots of complaint about the situation and, since this week, Jamaica Observer's weekly Auto magazine sought to get some update on the plans for addressing these annual events without success.

Motorists and business people are insisting that, at least, the $20 billion “Drain Plan” announced by the prime minister in September 2019 should get going as soon as possible.

It is a great hope for the thousands of motorists using the Marcus Garvey and Constant Spring Roads areas, but with the emergence of COVID-19 it may remain just a dream for a while longer.

The PM disclosed last year that the new drainage system was expected to cost between US$100 million and US$150 million.

“I know that they are doing some work to fulfil that promise, but I can't give any update on the current situation,” said one source at the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation where the proposals for the project originated.

September 11 this year marked the first anniversary of the announcement by the Andrew Holness Administration's that approximately $20 billio would be spent on constructing a new drainage network across Kingston and St Andrew, to put an end to the flooding nightmare in areas of the Corporate Area after heavy rainfall.

Holness told the House of Representatives then, that already a request for proposals for the design of the drainage system had been completed.

“Hopefully, they will go to contracting within a month and the period of design will be about six months. So, hopefully, we will have that ready in terms of the major drains that will have to be reconstructed, or new drains to be put in for Kingston and St Andrew,” he told his colleagues in the House.

This $20-billion proposal was said to have been $5 billion less than a projection given in March last year by the NWA CEO, EG Hunter, for the Tinson Pen drain upgrade.

“We should be seeking to have a new agreement [for the Greater Infrastructure Development Programme] soon setting out how that will be funded, and I will bring the House [of Representatives] up to date before the year is out as to where the funding will come from,” the prime minister told lawmakers.

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