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Transport and Works Minister, Robert Pickersgill has said that the work being carried out by the National Works Agency (NWA) on the flooded section of the Mandela Highway, would enable the re-opening of the westbound carriageway by the end of this week, if there is no more heavy rainfall.
Speaking to journalists at yesterday’s (October 24) post-Cabinet press briefing, Minister Pickersgill said the westbound carriageway, which handled vehicular traffic leaving Kingston, was flooded by the Duhaney and Ferry Rivers.
“Consequently, the east bound section of the carriage was converted to a single lane in either direction,” he explained.
The Minister informed that since Friday (October 21), the NWA mobilised a team to carry out work that included the creation of a drain in the median of the highway and dredging of sections of the rivers.
Meanwhile, elaborating on the work being done to clear the water from the highway, Chief Executive Officer of the NWA, Ivan Anderson told journalists that the agency has been working on several fronts to rectify the problem.
“We are down where the river empties out into the Hunt’s Bay, we are excavating down there to try and clear the river at that end,” Mr. Anderson explained.
He said excavators were also working at the Mandela end, “trying to create new drains into the wetlands [along the highway] to drain off the water”.
Additionally, he disclosed that the NWA was using pumps to extract the excess water from the highway.
“So with all those measures, and with the current rate of draw down that we are seeing, without additional rain, we are hoping that by Sunday or Monday, we should have both lanes clear,” Mr. Anderson said.
Addressing the NWA’s medium to long term plans to stave off a recurrence of the flooding on the Mandela Highway, Mr. Anderson said the agency is examining taking such action as the dredging of the Duhaney and Ferry Rivers to alleviate the problem upstream.
He also proposed that the western carriageway of the road might have to be raised, similar to the eastern side that was raised by three feet some years earlier.
Turning to Port Royal Street in downtown Kingston, Mr. Anderson said a contract has been awarded to Ace Construction Company to rehabilitate that road.
“One of the things that we want to do on Port Royal Street is make sure that we don’t just put a band-aid over the situation.we want to make sure that we properly rebuild the carriageway,” he said.
To this end, a new design has been done for the carriageway, which will utilise geo-textile fabric and shingles, which Mr. Anderson said would help prevent water from settling on the roadway.
Work on rebuilding damaged sections of Port Royal Street is expected to begin by next week.