JIS News

Most of the island’s main roads have been cleared of blockages associated with Hurricane Ivan and Jamaicans can now travel around the island, from Negril to Morant Point, with little difficulty, Vando Palmer, Communications and Customer Relations Manager at the National Works Agency (NWA) has said.
He told JIS News that as at Thursday afternoon (Sept. 16) the NWA’s Emergency Call Centre had received 569 reports of blocked roads across the island, and of that number, over 50 per cent had been partially or completely cleared.
“We have opened up single lane access on 207, and we have totally cleared 121, for a total of 328,” disclosed Mr. Palmer. “Of that number, we had 83 being among the main arterial roadways around the country.”
However, Mr. Palmer noted that there were a number of rural roads that were still blocked such as roads in Tangle River, St. James, which have been severed in two. According to Mr. Palmer, the State Minister for Transport and Works, Dr. Fenton Ferguson will pay a visit to that area today (Sept. 17) “to get a first-hand view of exactly what is taking place there.”
“The Wirefence to Warsop main road and Troy to Albert Town main road (in South Trelawny) also have quite a number of breakaways on them that will render the roads in some instances, almost impassable, in others merely a single lane.but it would not be single lane to anything bigger than a car or a SUV,” the Customer Relations Manager advised.
Also in South Trelawny, the Ulster Spring to Stettin and Freeman’s Hall to German Town main road is cut off in about two or three places and the Highgate Hall to Stettin roadway also has a number of land slippages along that thoroughfare.
“Just today, we redeployed some of our personnel from St. James over into south Trelawny to assist and speed up the process there, so that we can open up those roads,” informed Mr. Palmer.
In Hanover, the Chigwell main road is now completely impassable because of the rising level of floodwaters in the area, said Mr. Palmer, and the alternative route is to go to Flint River and through Cold Spring.
Meanwhile in St. Catherine, the NWA has been forced to close the Sligoville main road because of a breakaway on that road. While the alternate route is to go through Barry, Mr. Palmer acknowledged that that route was a bit problematic, as there is some “difficulty just close to the intersection with Wakefield, where there is a spring which is causing some minor flooding.”
“Small and low cars may experience difficulties going through there, but for larger vehicles, it is quite okay,” he pointed out.
Unfortunately, there are some rural areas that are still cut off from the rest of the island, the NWA Customer Relations Manager conceded, but said that the public could rest assured that the agency was working to correct the situation as soon as possible.
“The Content community and Harker’s Hall over in St. Catherine are still cut off and we are working on those. Over in St. Andrew, we are working our way up the hills through the Maryland area. There are some areas that we have not yet been able to reach, but we are continuing in earnest,” Mr. Palmer declared.
In order to expedite the process and ensure greater coordination among the agencies involved, a meeting was held on September 15 involving the Minister of Local Government, Community Development and Sport, Portia Simpson Miller; Minister of Transport and Works, Robert Pickersgill; State Minister, Dr. Fenton Ferguson; NWA’s CEO Ivan Anderson and the island’s mayors.
“The mayors and parish councillors are being asked to submit to us the list of roads that they have on their network to be cleared and which are the most critical ones that we should clear first,” revealed Mr. Palmer.
In the meantime, the NWA is working with private contractors to clear all blocked roads. Among the arterial roads that have been cleared, are the Rozelle main road between Yallahs and Morant Bay in St. Thomas, where the sea breached the sea wall and destroyed the roadway, rendering it totally impassable; the Bog Walk Gorge, which was severely damaged by flood waters from the river; the road between Ocho Rios and Moneague in St. Ann; and the road between Santa Cruz and Black River in the vicinity of Holland Bamboo in St. Elizabeth.
“There are areas still on the network where we have flooding, for example at Middle Quarters, and we will just have to wait until the water recedes before we can say that the road is totally cleared,” Mr. Palmer added.

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