Stakeholders examining drainage solutions for Mandeville

Stakeholders examining drainage solutions for Mandeville

Observer staff reporter

Friday, October 30, 2020

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MANCHESTER — The long-standing problem of flooding during heavy and persistent rainfall in the south-central town of Mandeville has united political representatives in an effort to find drainage solutions.

Stakeholders — including first-time Manchester Central Member of Parliament (MP), the Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP) Rhoda Moy Crawford; Mayor of Mandeville, the People's National Party's (PNP) Donovan Mitchell; councillors and caretakers — showed unity as they toured Mandeville and its environs on Wednesday.

The tour followed recent severe flooding associated with unstable weather across Jamaica.

According to Crawford, the drainage solutions will require the partnership of all relevant agencies.

“We would have all seen the unprecedented amount of rainfall across the island that has resulted in flooding,” said Crawford.

“We know that a lot of the problems that we have here are long-standing; we are not getting into politics and any blame game. The reality is based on the magnitude of the damage right across the constituency — no one individual, agency, or office will be able to deal with the situation,” added Crawford.

Before the tour there was a stakeholders' meeting during which all the issues were identified.

Last week the Jamaica Observer highlighted the plight of some residents, including some left stranded due to the flooding.

Among the flood-prone areas is deCarteret Road in the vicinity of Belair High School, which has three drain inlets and one soakaway.

At another section of deCarteret Road, below its intersection with Wesley Road, Mitchell highlighted the need for guard rails.

“This area is one of our busiest areas in terms of schools, with deCarteret College, Belair, El Institut[o de Mandevilla] and Bishop [Gibson High]. The road is being eroded. For a number of years, we have been asking for something to be done, whether a guard rail or a wall. I am hopeful that the National Works Agency [NWA] will be able to come up with a remedy,” said Mitchell.

“There have been a lot of mishaps where students have been hit by rear-view mirrors…Two vehicles can hardly pass in this area,” added Mitchell.

The other flood-prone areas inspected in Mandeville during the tour included Newleigh Road, Caledonia Road, and Manchester Road.

Crawford highlighted concerns about soakaway drains being blocked because of dumping by residents.

“I have seen areas that are to be used as soakaways being dumped on. I have seen other areas that have been built or rechannelled for soakaway; the water isn't soaking at the rate that we would want,” she said.

“I have seen where residents have blocked the natural channel leading into the drains and I have seen, too, where there are areas that require some retaining walls to re-channel water,” added Crawford.

The first-time MP spoke of the need to identify responsibility for specific roadways by the NWA and the municipal corporation.

She argued that she needs to know which of the roadways or areas are the direct responsibility of NWA and which are the responsibility of the municipal corporation.

“And then I can see what I can do from my Constituency Development Fund (CDF) or to reach out to the different ministers to bring about solutions,” said Crawford.

“We will have to decide...which are the priority ones that are causing more havoc or creating greater danger or damage to property and then we start by tackling those — but based on the magnitude of the issue, it is not an easy fix,” added Crawford.

Mitchell later told journalists that the municipal authority will engage the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA).

“We have seen blockages of drains. We have seen the dumping of gullies. We have seen the dumping of areas that ought not to be dumped. We will be talking to the NEPA,” said Mitchell.

Mitchell said the damage to infrastructure is widespread in Manchester and he appealed for patience from the public.

“It is not just only in Mandeville or central Manchester. I have been to Alligator Pond, I have been to the John's Hall area of the parish. There are some land slippages in the Craighead, Christiana area. There are culverts that have collapsed,” he said.

The mayor added: “I know the Grove Town and the Porus area suffered a bit more damage than the other divisions...We are in discussions with the local government minister. He is trying to get us some funds to do at least some remedial works because we are not yet out of the woods. The hurricane season will not be over until November 30.

“We are trying to make our citizens feel better traversing the roadways, but after that is when we will look at rehabilitating some of the roads and fixing some of the areas in the way it ought to be. I am appealing to the citizens of Manchester to please be patient with us because we have to first find the money before we can solve the problems,” said Mitchell.

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