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JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Ground was broken on Thursday (December 11) for an $82 million landslide mitigation project in the community of Bedward Gardens in rural St. Andrew.
  • The project is aimed at reducing the community’s vulnerability to landslides, soil instability, flooding and falling boulders.
  • It is part of a larger US$2.4 million Landslide Risk Reduction Mitigation programme encompassing four communities, which is being implemented by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM)

Ground was broken on Thursday (December 11) for an $82 million landslide mitigation project in the community of Bedward Gardens in rural St. Andrew.

The project is aimed at reducing the community’s vulnerability to landslides, soil instability, flooding and falling boulders.

It is part of a larger US$2.4 million Landslide Risk Reduction Mitigation programme encompassing four communities, which is being implemented by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM). In addition to Bedward Gardens, the others are Harbour Heights and Melbrook Heights in St. Andrew; and Breastworks in Portland.

These communities are impacted by deteriorating infrastructure due to landslides, soil instability, unchannelled water run-offs, and flooding.

Research Analyst at ODPEM, Christopher Gayle, told JIS News that the Bedward Gardens project entails improving slope stability to curtail the incidence of land slippage, and drain infrastructure improvement works to reduce flooding.

He said measures will be put in place to control the rainwater before it can trigger a landslide.

“We’ll be putting in intercept drains… as well as controlling the rainwater that sheets off the roof of each house with guttering, and installing black tanks so there’s some amount of rainwater harvesting,” he informed.

“In addition, grey (waste) water, in some instances, will be captured as some people build their pits on the hillside, which serve as trigger points for landslides. The thinking is, if we remove the trigger, then the slopes will remain stable and the landslides will be mitigated,” he contended.

Mr. Gayle told JIS News that members of the Bedward Gardens community played an integral role in the final outlay of the mitigation strategies after identifying the hazards they face. He said residents will be hired to carry out plumbing works and construct U-drains for the project.

“We engaged HEART/NTA to provide training in general construction, which included masonry, plumbing and carpentry. So, it’s expected that those trained will be used through the life of the project,” he said, noting that training was also carried out to ensure the sustainability of the mitigation strategies.

Member of Parliament for East Rural, St. Andrew, and State Minister for Tourism and Entertainment, Hon. Damion Crawford, welcomed the project.

“With the reduction in risk and the infrastructure improvement that comes with that, it improves their land values and, by extension, allows for them to get better loans to develop their own lives. So, this is more than saying your house will not be washed away as their lives will be improved,” he stated.

Mr. Crawford noted that the skills training aspect of the project will empower residents to seek employment or create their own jobs.

“They are all excited; excited about the work, but also excited about what the future holds,” he told JIS News.

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