Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, says the damage caused by the heavy rainfall is a clear indication that the infrastructural network is inadequate to deal with such occurrences.
He told JIS News that the unprecedented level of rainfall in some parishes was way beyond what was calculated for in the original planning and development of the communities.
“The population in most communities and town centres has grown beyond what it was 10 to 20 years ago. Nobody can deny that a lot of effort was made in having drains cleaned across the country. What we are experiencing is a level of rainfall that the parishes have not seen in quite a long time, over 10 inches within the first two days. Simply put, the drains were overwhelmed,” he said.
Mr. McKenzie argued that the deluge is as a result of a mixture of events, such as people building in ‘no build’ zones, the chopping down of trees and shrubbery on the hillsides for agricultural cultivation, destroying the hills to build houses and to burn coal.
The Minister said that $175 million has been allocated to six municipal corporations as emergency funding to address critical infrastructural repairs in the affected parishes, particularly the restoration of access to communities marooned or restricted by flooding and land slippages.
“This $175 million has been allocated to Clarendon, Manchester, Portland, St. Elizabeth, St. Thomas and Westmoreland. We are going to be making an additional allocation to the St. Ann Municipal Corporation, because of the problems they are experiencing,” he added.
Mr. McKenzie said the Government is working assiduously to provide relief in all affected parishes.
A review is to be undertaken of existing structures, particularly in town centres and other urban areas of the country, to see where drainage capacity can be significantly expanded in the short to medium term.
Mr. McKenzie reiterated that the Ministry will collaborate with the National Works Agency (NWA) to develop an infrastructural programme to address the issue of flooding.
The Minister also indicated that all parish councils will receive funding for phase one of the annual mitigation programme.