Saturday 24 October, 2020

PNP wants NWA to address 'failing drainage system'

A woman attempts to cross a flooded street during heavy rainfall in the Corporate Area on Wednesday.

A woman attempts to cross a flooded street during heavy rainfall in the Corporate Area on Wednesday.

Shadow Minister of Transport and Works, Mikael Phillips, says the minister with responsibility for works owes the country an explanation on what he said is the failure of the drainage system throughout the Corporate Area following this week's heavy rainfall "which turned streets into rivers of moving debris." 

In a press release, Phillips said the recent deluge had affected specifically the newly constructed Hagley Park Road, Marcus Garvey Drive, particularly in the vicinity of the Tinson Pen Aerodrome and the Portmore Causeway.

The Opposition spokesman asserted that the latest rainfall has exposed vulnerabilities in many ways as streets quickly submerged under several feet of water, leaving cars stranded and washing sewage and solid waste across communities. In many instances, residents were forced to wade through the moving debris to get to their homes, he said.

The sheer volume of water, he said, quickly overwhelmed the neglected and poorly maintained drainage system in several areas. 

Phillips said the rains had caused widespread damage to the road network as road surfaces deteriorated into potholes. In some cases, the collapse of several roadways across the island, including a section of the busy Washington Boulevard, forced a detour of westbound traffic from the city, among other woes, he argued.

Phillips said the National Works Agency (NWA) which maintains responsibility for the road network, promised that it would assess the drainage network throughout the Corporate Area before commenting on the possible causes of the frequent flooding episodes.

Referencing a statement from NWA Chief Executive Officer, EG Hunter, Phillips said Hunter seems to have confirmed that an assessment was completed and is now in the agency’s possession. 

“If this assessment had been done, it should be implemented, even on a phased basis, to correct some of the historically poor constructed drainage systems across the island,” Phillips appealed.  He continued, “What would be the rationale for such a study if not to be used to guide the improvement in the system.”

Phillips asserted that the 2020/2021 Estimate of Expenditure contains no appreciable allocation for drain maintenance, which he said would indicate that it remains a low priority item. He argued that as long as there is rainfall, the flooding will continue on streets and in communities, especially those in low-line areas.

He said the government must take responsibility and be accountable for the "daily disaster" on our roadways because of what he said was the poor construction of the road infrastructure and poorly maintained drainage network.  

Phillips appealed to Minister Everald Warmington, the Minister with responsibility for Works, to treat the matter as a priority and address the perennial flooding on Marcus Garvey Drive, the network of secondary roads, and the surrounding communities.

Get the latest local and international news straight to your mobile phone for free: