JIS News

The National Works Agency (NWA) has cleared 91 roadways across the island that were affected by heavy rainfall over the weekend.

The agency's CEO, E.G. Hunter, told JIS News on Oct. 1 that approximately 100 of the island's road corridors were impacted.  He said the remaining nine are in need of major works.

Mr. Hunter, who was speaking to JIS News following a high level meeting at Jamaica House, involving officials from agencies engaged in emergency management, informed that the Bog Walk Gorge in St. Catherine has been cleared and is now open to vehicular traffic. “Based on river flows, one would still advise caution in traversing that roadway," he urged.

He also informed that parts of the Fern Gully in St. Ann, on which extensive drain work is being carried out, have been several impacted.  He said the situation was regrettable, "as our schedule was to have these works completed in time for the start of the tourist season".

Mr. Hunter explained that a major part of the construction area collapsed, which resulted in the sudden closure of the roadway. He was unable to say when the road will reopen, noting that an assessment is underway.

"I've been advised it will take us a better part of two weeks to have that corridor reopened. We are in dialogue with the contractor carrying out the drain works to see if we can find a technical solution that will allow traffic to be readmitted through the Fern Gully in the shortest possible time," he told JIS News.

Meanwhile, the NWA CEO informed that the schedule or the replacement of the bridge, which serves the Kintyre district in St. Andrew, will have to be brought forward, as the structure was washed away by floodwaters.

"Fortunately, we had that bridge up for replacement under the JEEP (Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme),” he stated.  

He noted that a budget of $100 million has been set aside to carry out those works. Of the total, $65 million will be used for the installation of the new bridge, and the remaining $35 million for river training and associated roadway works.

"The original schedule for that project would have been three to four weeks. However, given the problems now being experienced by the residents, our plan is to accelerate that schedule and to bring it forward as best as we can," he said.

Deputy Director General, Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), Richard Thompson, also informed that six parishes were seriously affected by the weather conditions over the weekend, with the parishes of Portland, Kingston and St. Andrew and St. Catherine being the most affected.

"The ODPEM is now at level one activation and will remain at that level as the system passes over the island,” he stated.

He informed that the agency’s parish disaster mechanism remains activated to lend assistance at the parish level.