Concrete road to solve flooding problem in QuarryThursday, July 01, 2021
BY ANTHONY LEWIS
QUARRY, St James — After four unsuccessful attempts to resolve flooding and damage to infrastructure in the Quarry, Glendevon, area of St James, Caribbean Cement Company (Carib Cement) is partnering with the Government to construct a concrete road in a section of the community at a cost of $40 million.
The heavy flow of water, which causes flooding and significant damage to infrastructure in Quarry, is a result of deforestation of the Montego Hills and Norwood areas to accommodate houses which are located approximately a mile away in the hills. This has resulted in a section of the roadway in Quarry becoming a “river course” over the past 15 years.
Since then, there have been four failed attempts to have the problem resolved, two of which have been considered to be major fixes.
While the attempted fixes, which included the construction of drains, the installation of pipes, walls, and road repairs, have minimised the flooding of properties, the road remains a problem. The cost of one such fix, which was undertaken in recent years, was in the region of $40 million.
“In fact, the road surface ahead of us tells you that nearly two inches of asphalt with adequate drainage [was done]... but we had one flood and it took out everything including the pipes that were laid underground, and then we went back and fixed it, and you see what happened since then. And drain pipes are still broken below the ground,” disclosed Dr Horace Chang, the Member of Parliament (MP) for the area.
“We are now looking at a solution, which fortunately for the community Carib Cement has come in and has offered to use cement to demonstrate how we can fix roads of this nature,” added Dr Chang as he argued that “cement with the right mix, that is properly done, will withstand that kind of flooding”.
Dr Chang, who is also the country's deputy prime minister, argued that several areas in Jamaica are of a similar hilly nature and as such, it is difficult to prepare for floods and damage to regular road construction resulting from storms during the hurricane season and October rainy season. He added that the use of cement could provide more construction resilience.
According to Dr Chang, Carib Cement's contribution will have a major impact on the community.
“Each fix, at the time, would be running in the region of $40 million. I think one was done in combination with other roads, but you are looking at that as a $40/$50-million range, because you had to excavate [and] lay pipes to do proper construction. It is not a long road but it has to be done with heavyweight. So, that was the purpose of it.
“I expect that the cement company is going to spend the same amount of money here, even if not in cash. In terms of the value of their supplies and all of that, they will be running in that kind of region. The value of the work will be in the $40-$50-million range. So, it is a major contribution,” declared Chang.
“Our population in the area is well over 1,000 people, so it is a pretty compact community. Part of our difficulty here is that we have had a number of intervention work with young people in here, but giving them proper roads to their homes is one of the biggest motivations for them, because it shows respect for the community,” added Chang.
The MP stressed that the relocation of the residents is not feasible as “they all have their property titles and good structural homes”.
He argued that the most critical thing for the residents is to control the flooding that takes place.
Chang said the project could start as early as next week, depending on how soon Carib Cement can put the logistics in place.
In the meantime, Yago Castro, managing director of Carib Cement, who was on hand, along with his team, during a tour of the community on Tuesday, said the company will be using a “solid concrete paving solution” on the road in Quarry.
André Nelson, industrial and building solutions manager at Carib Cement, noted that while this type of solution may cost less than $40 million and is designed to last approximately 10 years, at which point minor cracks may develop, it could last for another 40 to 50 years.