US$280 million to save Kingston from storm surges
A section of the Kingston Harbour seawall on Michael Manley Boulevard. The project became urgent due to continued erosion and the effects of storm surges. (Photo: Anson Lewis)

IT will cost Jamaica at least US$280 million to save downtown Kingston from the serious effects of coastal erosion according to Matthew Samuda, minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation with responsibility for water, environment and climate change.

Samuda was participating in a Jamaica Observer Press Club last Thursday at Halse Hall Great House in Clarendon.

Representatives of The University of the West Indies' Solutions for Developing Countries (SODECO), and the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) also participated in the discussions which centred mainly on the crucial Mangrove Restoration Project now underway in southern Clarendon.

"To protect downtown Kingston from the Kingston Harbour will cost us, at minimum, US$280 million to put in [a] seawall and raise roads. This is not an investment that widens a road, and [it] doesn't trigger any economic growth or new jobs in that space – it simply will de-risk the investments already made in downtown," Samuda said.

Matthew Samuda, minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, addressing last Thursday's Jamaica Observer Press Club.(Photo: Garfield Robinson)

"The projections for sea-level rise are all significant and frightening. You would recall a project by the Planning Institute of Jamaica, funded by the World Bank, that was done in Rae Town. That is one kilometre of raised roadway and seawall which dealt with the fact that much of that wall would have been collapsing from encroachment of the sea. We have 28 kilometres in that space, much of which is already as degraded as the Rae Town stretch," said Samuda.

The one kilometre of seawall and road that was done at Rae Town cost roughly $1.3 billion and was dubbed the Port Royal Street Coastal Revetment Project. In addition to the composite seawall and armour stone revetment structure the project features upgraded drainage, rehabilitation, and raising of one kilometre of existing roadway, and installation of a 4.7-metre-wide boardwalk to improve the site's aesthetics and promote recreational activity along the shoreline.

An 80-metre fishing beach was also created for fisherfolk in the area who currently berth their vessels along the shoreline.

The redeveloped corridor, which spans the coastline from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade building to the Rae Town Fishing Village, became urgent due to continued erosion and the effects of storm surges.

Last year the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation was given the responsibility for general management of the project and to ensure the investment is protected.

In the next three decades, according to the website of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the United States of America, sea level in the Caribbean could rise by at least 10 inches.

BY JASON CROSS Observer staff reporter

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