RUNAWAY BAY, St. Ann: The St. Ann Municipal Corporation and the National Works Agency (NWA) have been tasked to undertake short-term repairs in Runway Bay and its environs to minimize infrastructural damage caused by recent rains.
The multi-agency approach to undertake clean-up and remedial work was announced by Honourable Desmond McKenzie, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Minister during a tour on February 9 to evaluate the damage.
Minister McKenzie also said that the measures will be taken to improve the drainage network along the main road in Runway Bay.
Runaway Bay Square was under water for several hours following the rainfall. The Minister said that garbage was a main contributor to the blockage of the waterways.
He also urged the citizens to become better custodians of the environment.
“There’s a role for the citizens to play and people must now understand that Jamaica is no longer a country that you rely on getting rain at a set point during the year because climate change has put an end to all of that,” stated Minister McKenzie.
“When I look in some of the gullies and drains…we are seeing where people dump old refrigerators and old cars.”
The Minister was joined in St. Ann by Mayor Sydney Stewart as well as other councillors and staff of the St. Ann Municipal Corporation; senior representatives from the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM); National Works Agency (NWA) and the Social Development Commission (SDC).
The impacted communities in St. Ann are Chester, Spicey Grove, Mount Zion, White River and Runaway Bay. The Ministry of Labour and Social Security, the St Ann Poor Relief Department and the SDC are providing support to residents who have been displaced.
Senior Director for Project Implementation at the NWA, Mr. Varden Downer, said that the agency will be expanding the drains at Runaway Bay square to accommodate the volume of water during heavy downpours.
“We are going to look and see how much we can open these [drains] to allow the flood waters to drain away,” he said.
Minister McKenzie began the day with an inter-ministerial tour of flood-damaged sections of Portland, St Mary, and St Ann that were affected by recent heavy rains. He was joined by Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Pearnel Charles Jr, and Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Matthew Samuda.
The special visit was used to assess conditions and pave the way for further interventions to assist affected parishioners.