J$25b Tinson Pen drain upgrade
It could cost the Government about US$200 million (J$25 billion) to construct new drains in the Tinson Pen area of Kingston, National Works Agency (NWA) Chief Executive Officer E.G. Hunter has revealed.
Major flooding in the vicinity of Tinson Pen along Marcus Garvey Drive in October last year caused hours-long traffic jams that stretched as far back as downtown Kingston and turned vast swathes of the capital into a parking lot.
The heavy rains also resulted in several businesses being inundated in Freeport, sparking outrage from Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie, who vowed that the Government would significantly upgrade drains in the area.
“A lot of preliminary works has been going on, but these are not a single event and then tomorrow, you see backhoe excavating and constructing. It does not work like that, and people have to understand that the time must be spent for the proper engineering to be undertaken,” said Hunter.
“The problem was that the existing drains were designed years ago for particular flood events. Since then, weather patterns and climate change and other environmental factors and particular developments had caused those drains to be now undersized,” he added.
The NWA CEO told The Gleaner that the cleaning of drains was a Band-Aid to the crisis and would fail to address the undercapacity of the existing infrastructure to manage the environmental and other changes that have occurred over time. The only solution, he said, was to build much larger drains.
“It will take an MIDP-type drain-building programme to address the situation at Tinson Pen, meaning that you have to have an infrastructure programme of a sufficient size that’s going to allow you to construct drains in the range of US$200 million. That is the size and extent of drains that are required to solve the problem there,” Hunter stated, referencing the Major Infrastructure Development Programme, the multibillion-dollar vehicle the Government has used to drive the Mandela Highway, Constant Spring Road, and Barbican overhauls.
Hunter said the plan includes the construction of a major drain of similar capacity to the Sandy Gully in order to facilitate runoff from Marcus Garvey Drive in the vicinity of Tinson Pen, and that would act as a conduit for drain water coming through the Logan and Waltham Park Road areas and the realignment of a section of Marcus Garvey Drive to facilitate the expansion of the port.
“We are most definitely not at a standstill. We are taking this time to do all those proprietary work, the surveys, to do all the identification of lands that are to be impacted. All these have to be done so that the exercise can give you the desired results at the end of the day,” Hunter said.