Fix May Pen drains, urge councillors
Inside the MunicipalitiesMonday, July 12, 2021
MAY PEN, Clarendon — The National Works Agency's (NWA) failure to effectively clean and maintain drains is undermining work being done by local representatives trying to prevent flooding in their divisions, says former mayor of May Pen, Councillor Scean Barnswell. Member of Parliament for Clarendon South Eastern Pearnel Charles Jr's failure to consult with him on what drains to be cleaned has also contributed to the problem, he said.
According to Barnswell, there was flooding in his Hayes Division after only two-and-a-half hours of rain associated with Tropical Storm Elsa and he is urging the NWA to clean and properly maintain the drains.
“When I look at some houses that were flooded last year when we had 14 days of rainfall and now they are flooded from minimal rainfall, it leaves me to believe that it is because of the blocked NWA drains,” he said during last Thursday's monthly meeting of the Clarendon Municipal Corporation.
“What is upsetting is that despite what we are doing at the local level, in terms of maintaining community drains, if these bigger NWA drains are not cleaned it will have a negative impact on what we do. It is now causing serious problems for the residents of the Hayes Division,” he argued.
“I see the MP cleaned one section of the Barnswell gully, then leave the middle part where people live and then clean another section where nobody lives and the people almost flood out on Sunday. There was water on their steps,” he said.
When asked to clarify his statement, Barnswell said he was speaking specifically of the Member of Parliament for Clarendon South Eastern, Pearnel Charles Jr.
“There was a drain that was cleaned Saturday and the system came Sunday. If I was consulted I would have reminded him that the drain along the Hayes main road all the way to Three-sister Pump should be a priority. I would have told him that and the flooding along the Hayes main road could have been prevented,” he explained.
However, Kenneth Davis, who is councillor for the May Pen East Division, said all the drains in his division had been cleaned but some areas still flooded because the communities have been poorly developed, leaving little space for water run-offs or soak away.
“The same drains that existed decades ago are still expected to carry larger volumes of water, so we could clean today and tomorrow and the other day and if rains come after that [it] causes flooding. We will have the same problems until we expand the drains,” he said.
But Barnswell rejected the assertion that the areas are being flooded because of poorly planned development, saying the drains are simply not being cleaned and maintained.
Councillor for the Denbigh Division, Joel Williams, shared his view that the gullies cannot carry the same volume of water as they did before because they have deteriorated over time. “As a municipal corporation we need to call on central government to look at the critical drains across the plains of Clarendon and start to build them out. If that is not done, we are going to come across as being penny wise and pound foolish because we will be spending money cleaning earth drains that can only suffice for two to three weeks because they will be filled again,” he said.
Barnswell said he will be moving a resolution for money to be made available from the Equalisation Fund to clean drains within the Hayes Division that have not been maintained since 2007.