JIS News

Prime Minister Bruce Golding, has said the Government would be providing assistance to communities and persons, who sustained damage, dislocation and losses during the passage of Tropical Storm Gustav.
Addressing journalists at a media briefing at Jamaica House, today (August 29), Mr. Golding said the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, has been instructed to conduct investigations into reports of deaths in the Kintyre and Tavern communities in St. Andrew, in order to provide assistance to persons, who are reported to have lost family members and friends. Several houses in both communities reportedly collapsed and fell into the Hope River, which is adjacent to both areas. He also advised that assistance would be forthcoming to persons who lost houses.
“Those persons, whose houses were lost, we will be investigating those cases to try to assist them as quickly as possible, in relocating them to safer ground, and assisting them to provide proper shelter for themselves,” the Prime Minister informed.
He also expressed condolences to the persons who lost family members and friends.
However, Mr. Golding emphasised that firm action would be taken to prevent further construction of houses along the Hope River. He noted that houses have been constructed in areas not suitable for such development, and lamented that over time, the river has undermined those structures, endangering the lives of the occupants.
“I have spoken with the Mayor of Kingston and St. Andrew, because it is action that will have to be taken through the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC). We are not going to allow any further construction. We are going to have to do a review of what is there now, to determine where persons will have to be relocated. We will also have to determine what engineering works, river training, provision of groynes, will need to be done, to secure those areas that can be secured, on a permanent basis,” the Prime Minister said.
Mr. Golding informed that a preliminary estimate, suggests that as many as 150 houses across the island have been destroyed, a significant number of which were in the Spring Bank area of Portland.
Regarding the Harbour View Bridge in St. Andrew, and the Westmoreland Bridge in St. Mary, both of which have been destroyed, the Prime Minister said the National Works Agency (NWA), has made arrangements to commence the erection of temporary Bailey Bridges. The Harbour View Bridge links St. Thomas with Kingston and other areas of the south coast, while the Westmoreland Bridge links the communities of Junction and Highgate in St. Mary.
“The NWA has given me an assurance that they will work virtually around the clock (on the Harbour View Bridge), and we hope to complete the erection of that temporary Bailey Bridge, early next week. We will then have to do an assessment of the damage to see how quickly we will be able to commence construction work to have that restored. We are hoping to apply a similar treatment (to the Westmoreland Bridge), by providing a temporary Bailey Bridge there to re-open traffic, as quickly as possible,” he informed.
Regarding damage to roadways, Mr. Golding said that, while the exact number of roads damaged is yet to be determined, some 129 corridors have been identified as blocked. Thus far, 25 of these have been cleared.
“We do know that some of the roads have suffered major land slippages and landslides that we can clear. But there are a number of them that have also suffered major breakaways, and those will require detailed engineering assessment, before we can determine how quickly those roads can be re-opened,” he pointed out.
In relation to drains, gullies and rivers, the Prime Minister said a preliminary assessment has been done. He pointed out, however, that a detailed assessment would not be ready before September 1, to determine where damage has taken place, and where corrective work would need to be carried out.