GREEN ISLAND, Hanover - A persistent problem of flooding in Crawl, Hanover, which residents are convinced is linked to a faulty drainage system, will need a multi-agency solution, according to Minister of Local Government and Community Development Desmond McKenzie. He has promised that he will bring the required agencies to the table.
"I will be inviting the National Works Agency, NEPA [National Environment and Planning Agency], and other agencies to help in coming up with a solution to the problem that seems to be of real concern in the community whenever it rains," McKenzie told the Jamaica Observer.
"It is not a matter of just simply cleaning a drain that they are faced with. It is a real challenge and I think it is not in the scope of the minister of local government alone," he added.
The Hanover Municipal Corporation has been directed to clean up as much of the area as possible so an assessment can be done to determine the extent of the problem.
Green Island resident Daniel Scarlett, who has been living in the area for 23 years, is among those eagerly awaiting a solution.
"All that these people ask for is the road and the drainage system to be sorted out and they are in good condition," he said.
"When it rains, it pours because the drainage system has not been cleaned for years and if it's even been cleaned, it's not been cleaned properly. Halfway cleaning won't help the solution. It's more like adding to the problem," Scarlett added.
He was one of several citizens from the area who brought the situation to McKenzie's attention during a recent tour of Hanover Western. The community is partly surrounded by a morass which impacts the flow of water out to sea.
"You have crocodile nests in the area. So, I don't know if that was a challenge. But if that's a challenge, then you have NEPA that would come and remove the reptiles for it to be cleaned properly," Scarlett told Observer West after speaking with McKenzie.
"If they don't look at dredging the area with either a backhoe or excavator and then put gabion baskets to the side of it, then the problem will forever remain. [The water] has to go to the main bridge that runs over to the sea in Green Island where it exits," he added.
Member of Parliament (MP) for Hanover Western, Tamika Davis — who invited McKenzie on the tour — said residents have grappled with the problem of inferior roads, inadequate drainage and garbage collection for years.
"I am happy that the minister focused on what I believe to be the most crucial of all the problems, which is the clearing of the drains," she said.
She agreed that step has to be taken before road repairs.
"I am delighted to hear the minister giving his undertaking today with the different agencies, because it will have to be a multi-agency approach given the nature of the problem of the morass, the bridge and the drain. We will all come together to ensure that the community can certainly get a final fix to this age-old problem," Davis promised.