JIS News

Story Highlights

  • NWA has cleared most of the roads in St. Mary, which were blocked by landslides associated with heavy rains in the parish over the weekend.
  • There are areas that have been “totally cut off” due to severe damage to roadways.
  • The evaluations are still being carried out, the St. Mary Parish Council has made an initial estimate of the damage of about $180 million.

State Minister in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, Hon. Richard Azan, says the National Works Agency (NWA) has cleared most of the roads in St. Mary, which were blocked by landslides associated with heavy rains in the parish over the weekend.

Mr. Azan, who toured the affected areas on Tuesday, January 21, where he met with residents, and made note of the damage to their homes and properties, told reporters that work is continuing by the NWA team to open all roads and return the parish to some form of normalcy.

“The technical team is working overtime to reopen the roads. So far, about 80 per cent have been cleared…we can have the residents go in and out of the communities,” he stated.

Mr. Azan noted that there are areas that have been “totally cut off” due to severe damage to roadways.

He said that the technical team is doing an assessment and a report on the damage is to be presented to Minister Dr. the Hon. Omar Davies, by Friday, so that he can make a Cabinet submission on Monday, for further response to the residents, and the commencement of road repairs.

He said that while the evaluations are still being carried out, the St. Mary Parish Council has made an initial estimate of the damage of about $180 million.

“The Mayor told me that the local government figure is about $180 million. The NWA figure should be much bigger than that. I appeal to the residents; I noted your concerns, you need the roads, and you need them in the shortest possible time. Funding is one of the major problems, but we are working to make sure that we can correct some of these problems,” the State Minister said.

Accompanying Mr. Azan on the tour were Mayor of Port Maria, Councillor   Levan Freeman; NWA technical personnel; Member of Parliament for Western St. Mary, Joylan Silvera and other political representatives.

The Mayor used the occasion to urge residents to “seek the advice of the parish council, and its approval” when constructing buildings.

It was indentified that while the flooding was caused by blocked drains, part of the problem was the obstruction of water courses by homes and other structures, thereby preventing the free flow of water.

For his part, the Member of Parliament had high praise for personnel with the Jamaica Fire Brigade, and other agencies, who responded during the emergency.

“The agencies, the fire people from St. Ann and St. Mary, worked very hard during that time. The National Works Agency, the Red Cross, everybody came on board, the police, and I feel good as a representative that everybody was together during this time of disaster,” Mr. Silvera said.