Equalization Fund to fix flooding in Guava Walk
A section of the Guava Walk main road that was badly damaged during heavy rains in November.

MONTEGO BAY, St James - A resolution approved by the St James Municipal Corporation at a meeting recently has given Unity Hall residents hope that flooding problems caused by poor drain infrastructure on the Guava Walk main road may soon be resolved.

The corporation approved a resolution for roughly $30 million to be requested from the Equalization Fund to effect urgent works on the roadway after Councillor Dwight Crawford (Jamaica Labour Party, Spring Garden Division), moved the resolution at the meeting.

The Guava Walk main road, a parochial road, was damaged last November after a stationary front across Jamaica dumped heavy rains on the western end of the island causing flooding and damage to roads and other infrastructure.

Several houses were flooded during the heavy rainfall.

The community drains, though regularly cleaned, are said to have been a major cause of the flooding as they are far too small to effectively manage the volume of water coming off the hills.

“I rise to present a resolution seeking funding from the Equalization Fund to rehabilitate the Guava Walk parochial road and construct stormwater U-drains in that area of Unity Hall,” said Crawford, in moving the resolution.

The Equalization Fund was created in 1997 and is financed by 10 per cent of the money collected islandwide from property taxes. All the 13 municipal corporations are allocated a percentage of the fund to carry out critical infrastructure work in their various divisions.

CRAWFORD…seeking roughly $30m from the Equalization Fund to undertake repairs (Photo: Philp Lemonte)

Ninety-three-year-old Guava Walk resident Margret Asherton, who said she was severely traumatised during last November’s heavy rainfall, which damaged the road and flooded her house, said she is “not complaining” about the fact that the road hasn’t been fixed some eight months after the flooding. The elderly woman told the Jamaica Observer West that she believes it was the complaints of the residents that forced their political representatives to have delivered substandard infrastructural works during a similar event on the same road years ago.

“They do their best and we want the best, so we are not complaining. The first time it happened we complained a lot because they took so long to come fix it, but now I am not complaining too much,” Asherton said.

But Carlene Messado, a relative of the elderly woman, is calling for the road repairs to be expedited as the country ramps up its preparedness for this year’s hurricane season.

“I think they did some makeshift repairs before, but I am hoping that they are going to do the real work soon. They need to do what they are doing quickly or it is going to be more devastating. Her [Asherton] house was badly flooded out, so they need to get the drains sorted to ensure that it doesn’t happen again,” said Messado.

Another resident, Maxine Thompson, believes that the community deserves “better infrastructure” to withstand the amount of water which runs from the hilly terrain during rainfall.

“I think we need a better drainage system and the asphalt that they use on the road needs to be thicker. There wasn’t even two inches of asphalt on the road and you can see it just by looking,” the woman complained.

Thompson, however, has decided to employ a wait-and-see approach to the fixing of her community road, as according to her, it seems as if nobody in authority is willing to accept suggestions from the residents.

“The way the road mash up, we never see it suh yet and mi live here for 30 years. We heard that some money was granted, but it wasn’t enough, so we been a wait patiently for this to be fixed. We just have to watch and see wah dem a do,” the woman said.

BY ROCHELLE CLAYTON Observer West reporter claytonr@jamaicaobserver.com

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