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$20 billion plan to help address Corporate Area drainage problems

There could soon be an end to major flooding in sections of the Corporate Area, as Prime Minister Andrew Holness has announced a US$150 million (Ja$20 billion) plan to address the recurring problem.

The areas that are involved in the new drainage plan include Tinson Pen, Maxfield Avenue and parts of the prime minister’s own West Central St Andrew constituency, such as Olympic Way.

Also to be included are parts of Opposition Leader, Dr Peter Phillips’ East Central St Andrew constituency, and parts of Anthony Hylton’s Western St Andrew constituency, which includes flood-prone communities like New Haven, Seaview Gardens and Callaloo Mews.

These are among the areas of Kingston and St Andrew that normally get severely flooded after heavy rainfall, and are situated where the Sandy Gully, the biggest drain in the Corporate Area, “comes and deposits,” Holness indicated as he made the announcement on Tuesday during a ministerial statement in the House of Representatives.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness on his feet in Parliament (file photo).

He said the plan for the new drainage network is far advanced, as the request for proposals for the design has already been completed.

“Hopefully, they will go to contracting within a month, and the period of design will be about six months. 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,” the prime minister said.

The Government is exploring the possibility of financing the project under the proposed Greater Infrastructure Development Programme (GIDP), which will be the likely successor to the Major Infrastructure Development Programme (MIDP).

Meanwhile, the Opposition leader, while welcoming the development, urged that consultation is done with critical stakeholders, including master builders and the wider community.

“Because it’s going to be a lot of money, as you have said… we’re going to get one shot at this, and I think the wider community and certainly some of the people affected, would like an opportunity before we put shovel into soil, to make certain that what we (are) funding and what we (are) paying for is really going to answer the need(s),” said Phillips.

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

The prime minister also said the Government was aiming to improve the drainage systems in other parts of the country, including May Pen, Clarendon; Santa Cruz, St Elizabeth; and Port Maria in St Mary.

“Those are areas that flood regularly,” he stated.