Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says that more than 200 roads islandwide were severely impacted by recent heavy rains associated with Tropical Storm Eta.
He was reporting on the impact of the system on the island, during the sitting of the House of Representatives on Tuesday (November 10) at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston.
“Under the previous system [Tropical Storm Zeta] we had 80 roads [impacted], and under this system we have assessed 206 roads. There will be a bill that we have to contemplate as a Parliament, as to how we recover,” Mr. Holness said.
He informed that all of the 23 roads that were listed as being impassable, during Zeta, have been cleared.
“When we say clear, vehicles can traverse but some may be single lane, some dual carriage, but all the roads are passable, except for the Thompson Town Road to Victoria road in Clarendon, where there was a partial collapse of the road. It is intended that reconstruction works will commence during the course of this financial year,” Prime Minister Holness told the House.
He said preliminary assessments indicate that the southern parishes were again more affected than the northern sections of the island.
“We now have 23 corridors, including the Gordon Town Road in St. Andrew, that are impassable or closed. The Gordon Town Road is a major challenge at this time, as not only do we have to be dealing with the unstable hillsides that collapsed but we have a major breakaway that has essentially cut off this important main road and, indeed, all the communities going up into the hills in east rural St. Andrew,” Mr. Holness said.
He indicated that he has instructed the National works Agency (NWA) “to ensure that all the necessary technical work is done expeditiously in order to get this issue resolved. It will require major efforts and time to have the road connected at this location, given the challenging landscape”.
Mr. Holness noted that the road sits atop a river channel that is some 80 metres below an embankment, which is more than 20 metres high.
He said that the problems for the people in the Gordon Town area were further compounded by landslides, including one massive earth movement along the Irish Town Road, which is the natural alternative route for many of these residents.
He informed that NWA has cleared the major landslide along the Irish Town Road “so persons who live in Section, Silver Hill Gap and surrounding areas will be able to, hopefully, access these areas”.
“I have been advised that there is a road connecting Gordon Town Road and Irish Town Road. That will be cleared as well, so that the residents there will have alternatives,” Mr. Holness said.
In relation to the Bull Bay area, additional heavy-duty equipment is to be brought in to assist in desilting the Chalky River, which has been a source of some of the flooding that has impacted that community.
“I want to again underscore the need for residents to ensure that when the Government spends millions of dollars to assist in building resilience in our drainage infrastructure that nothing is done to compromise the systems,” Mr. Holness said.
“We might have been able to mitigate significantly the impact of the flooding on those persons at Weise Road, had the groynes stayed in place. I am informed that some of the groynes in that area… were compromised. My understanding is some of the groynes were cut and the stones removed, indeed not just in the Bull Bay area [but] it’s a practice that is common islandwide,” he added.
The estimate for this latest flood event is yet to be tabulated.