By Elesha George
Millions of dollars are being sourced to repair infrastructural damage due to severe flooding caused by the recent torrential rains.
According to notes from Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Public Works estimated that a minimum of EC$20 million will be required to repair roads, bridges and other infrastructure severely impacted by this week’s heavy downpours.
That amount does not include the US$2.5 million being drawn from the World Bank’s CRIF (Catastrophic Risk Insurance Facility) fund or the EC$5 million being supplemented by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) which will go towards assisting residents who were affected by the trough system.
“The additional funds in relation to the infrastructure will be raised separately,” Cabinet spokesman and Information Minister Melford Nicholas said, adding that the monies will be derived “from a variety of sources”.
The government has declared the event a “national disaster” and the Ministry of Public Works has been mobilised to carry out repairs immediately.
In particular, Nicholas said the ministry has been asked to give the Small Creek Bridge its immediate attention to prevent traffic interruption from the south into the capital St John’s. Cabinet notes revealed the bridge was at risk of collapse.
“I think the direction that came from the Prime Minister is to ask that the Public Works officials move towards a 24-hour operation until they are able to bring some immediate restitution to some of these problems,” he explained.
Nicholas added that Urlings, Crabbe Hill and other communities in the southern corridor of the island are also of concern.
Drainage systems were overwhelmed with water because of the vast volume of rain that fell – again prompting the government to lament on the need for proper drainage systems across the country.
Roadways were undermined and the surface of newly-paved roads crumbled under the intense flooding.
Cabinet said that constituency representatives reported on the damage done in their areas to include loss of structural support on roadways and blocked road access due to boulders, stones, soil and other debris washed onto the streets on Monday and Tuesday.
Erosion of roadways has also been reported in Lower Gambles, Tanner Street and on All Saints Road.
The weather event has forced the government to once again launch a cleanup campaign to remove debris and garbage from the streets.
“Given the damage that has taken place with respect to certain household furnishing, we would expect that there is going to be a lot of debris, a lot of solid waste material that would have to be collected in the communities so the National Solid Waste has been mobilised to be able to provide the necessary resources – be it the heavy duty equipment and or trucks – to be deployed in each of the communities to assist the cleanup exercises that must take place now over the next coming days,” Nicholas added.