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The National Works Agency (NWA) is to conduct emergency work on the road in the Rio Grande Valley area of Portland, which was damaged by heavy rains, recently.
This was stated by Minister of State in the Ministry of Transport and Works, Dr. Fenton Ferguson during a press briefing at the end of a tour of the area on Friday, December 2.
The purpose of the tour was to provide Dr. Ferguson with a first hand view of the damage caused by the rainfall and the inconvenience being experienced by residents of the area.
Heavy rains on November 25 and 26 caused flooding and landslides in a number of communities, resulting in blockages in some sections, and damage to some houses and road surfaces.
Among the worst affected communities are Seaman’s Valley, where a section of the road was destroyed, and Friday, near Mill Bank, where a significant section of the roadway has been eroded.
Dr. Ferguson, who was accompanied by Member of Parliament for Eastern Portland, Dr. Donald Rhodd and officers of the NWA, said the emergency work would precede a major rehabilitation programme to be carried out on the road, which is slated to begin in February of next year.
This, he said, was in keeping with the commitment by the Government to treat the road as priority, because of its importance for agricultural production and other forms of economic development.
Dr. Ferguson said $5 million has been spent by the NWA to effect repairs on the road since the passage of Hurricane Ivan last year He added that the emergency work to be carried out would be done under a special programme to be implemented after discussion with the Ministry of Finance.
He noted that the first task to be undertaken was to ensure that the necessary protective works, including retaining walls and river training, were put in place to protect the communities and prevent further damage to infrastructure and property.
In his address, Dr. Rhodd emphasised that it was necessary to immediately address the damage because of the potential to adversely affect the social and economic development of the area.
Describing the residents of the Rio Grande Valley area as hardworking and industrious, Dr. Rhodd said he had full confidence in their ability to lead successful lives, and build prosperous communities if they are provided with the social amenities to assist them.