A flooded Maxfield Avenue in St Andrew
Civic leader Joe Issa is hailing the government’s quest to stop the persistent flooding of the Corporate area when it rains, referring to its relentless pursuit as one of “true grit”, and the $20-billion cost as an “investment” that will pay for itself in the long run.
“Flooding disrupts the normal course of business in the corporate area whenever it rains heavily, causing enormous distress and inconvenience to pedestrians and motorists, loss of valuable productive hours, damage to property and loss of lives.”
“This is a massive problem requiring a huge amount of resources and determination, and I commend Prime Minister Holness for chasing the solution to the flooding with no less grit than John Wayne chased the outlaw Tom Chaney into Indian territory, in the 1969 American Western, True Grit, which earned him his only Oscar.” Issa said.
He was commenting on the $20-billion drain plan which the government believes will end once and for all the recurring flooding nightmare in large parts of Kingston and St Andrew when it rains.
According to The Gleaner, 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 reportedly 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, the article said.
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, the paper wrote.
“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 reportedly told lawmakers.
He is said to have disclosed that the new drainage system is expected to cost between US$100 million and US$150 million.
Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips reportedly suggested, and Holness agreed, that the Government hold consultations with local masterbuilders and the “wider community” on the planned drainage works.
“I have no objection to that. I consider it necessary,” Holness reportedly 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, according to The Gleaner.