Mon | Sep 23, 2019

$20-BILLION DRAIN PLAN - Gov’t hopes to end recurring Corporate Area flooding nightmare

Published:Wednesday | September 11, 2019 | 12:17 AMLivern Barrett/Senior Parliamentary Reporter
Motorists slowly traverse a flooded Maxfield Avenue in St Andrew on Monday as heavy rainfall inundated several Corporate Area roads.
Motorists slowly traverse a flooded Maxfield Avenue in St Andrew on Monday as heavy rainfall inundated several Corporate Area roads.

The Andrew Holness administration is looking to shell out up to US$150 million (J$20.5 billion) to construct a new drainage network across Kingston and St Andrew to put an end to the flooding nightmare in areas of the Corporate Area after heavy rainfall.

Holness, the prime minister, announced yesterday that already a request for proposals for the design of the drainage system has been completed.

“Hopefully, they will go to contracting within a month and the period of design will be about six months,” he told the House of Representatives. “So, hopefully, we will have that ready in terms of the major drains that will have to be reconstructed or new drains to be put in for Kingston and St Andrew.”

Holness’ $20-billion price tag is $5 billion less than the projection given in March by National Works Agency CEO E.G. Hunter for the Tinson Pen drain upgrade.

Plans for the new system were first announced last October after heavy rains left sections of Marcus Garvey Drive, Molynes Road and other areas in the capital city inundated, causing gridlock and chaos for scores of motorists.

According to Holness, the proposed drainage system will cut across these and other well-known flood-prone areas in the Corporate Area such as Maxfield Avenue and Tinson Pen.

The plan, he said, is to finance the project through the proposed Greater Infrastructure Development Programme, which the Holness administration hopes will replace the Chinese-funded Major Infrastructure Development Programme.

“We should be seeking to have a new agreement [for the Greater Infrastructure Development Programme] soon setting out how that will be funded and I will bring the House [of Representatives] up to date before the year is out as to where the funding will come from,” the prime minister told lawmakers.

He disclosed that the new drainage system is expected to cost between US$100 million and US$150 million.

CONSULTATION NEEDED

Opposition Leader Dr Phillips suggested that the Government hold consultations with local masterbuilders and the “wider community” on the planned drainage works.

“We are going to get one shot at this and the wider community and the persons affected would like an opportunity, before we put shovel into soil, to make certain that what we are funding and what we paying for is going to answer the need,” Phillips cautioned.

“I have no objection to that. I consider it necessary,” Holness responded.

The prime minister said his administration was looking at developing specific plans for flood-prone towns such as May Pen, Santa Cruz and Port Maria that will fit into the national drainage plan.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com