Tuesday 24 November, 2020

$2 billion preliminary estimate for road damage from TS Zeta

Prie Minister Andrew Holness updates the nation in Parliament on Tuesday afternoon about preliminary estimates of road damage from recent rainfall, including those  associated with Tropical Storm Zeta.

Prie Minister Andrew Holness updates the nation in Parliament on Tuesday afternoon about preliminary estimates of road damage from recent rainfall, including those associated with Tropical Storm Zeta.

The preliminary estimate of the damage done to the country’s road infrastructure by the recent heavy rains, including those associated with Tropical Storm Zeta, has been set at $2 billion, with further counting underway.

All 14 parishes were impacted.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness made the announcement during a statement in the House of Representatives on Tuesday. He stressed that the figure was preliminary, as the National Works Agency (NWA) is still unable to access some areas that have been impacted.

“My assessment from what I’ve been seeing and what has been reported is that the estimate will rise significantly,” Holness said.

He explained that $2 billion is to be spent to clear roads, clean drains and gullies, create access, and to facilitate patching. The prime minister said the estimate does not include the cost of permanent repairs and major rehabilitation.

He told the House that the NWA, which has been mobilising equipment and personnel to clear blocked roads and restore access to communities, has reported that over 80 roadways island-wide were severely affected by landslides, mudflows, downed trees, washed-out bridges, undermined roadways or inundation.

Holness said this rendered some communities inaccessible and even marooned.

The preliminary assessment shows that southern parishes were more impacted than the northern parishes. It also showed that 60 per cent of parochial roads were damaged, with the preliminary estimate being $700 million. The parishes hardest hit were Kingston, St Andrew, St Catherine, Clarendon and Manchester.

The prime minister said because of the extent of the damage and the associated cost, the government is unable to undertake all of the required works at the same time. Coupled with budgetary constraints, only $1 billion of the estimated $2 billion will be available immediately.

Accordingly, the government has proposed a programme of “targeted interventions” with a priority ranking that will see blocked roads being reopened first. This is to be followed by the cleaning of critical drains and the patching of main thoroughfares.

At the time of his statement in the House on Tuesday afternoon, six corridors in St Catherine, including the Bog Walk Gorge, remained closed although it was expected that the gorge would have been reopened to vehicular traffic before the end of the day.

The gorge was impacted to the extent that several truckloads of sand and debris had to be removed from the heavily-trafficked thoroughfare, and special equipment had to be brought in to break up and remove huge boulders that were dislodged from the hillsides.

Several other roadways remained impassable on Tuesday, including the Old Harbour to Bartons road in St Catherine; Rock River to Ginger Ridge and Thompson Town to Victoria in Clarendon; Papine to Bull Bay, St Andrew; and Milk River to Alligator Pond, Manchester.

With rumours circulating on social media, Holness said he was informed by the NWA that based on inspections and field reports that the agency had conducted, none of the recently completed major projects was adversely affected. These included Constant Spring Road, Hagley Park Road, Barbican Road and Camp Road.

However, Hagley Park Road and Marcus Garvey Drive were flooded, resulting in inconvenience to motorists.

— Lynford Simpson

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