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Minister calls neglect of drainage system criminal, says City to drain in 48 hrs minus rainfall

City Mayor Hamilton Green (left) and Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson accompanied by senior technical officials at a media briefing on the current flood situation.

by Zena Henry

For more than a year, four of the six major pumps needed to drain Georgetown during time of heavy rainfall have not been operational, but after this long period, the Ministry of Infrastructure has noted that these mechanical devices will be up and running in 24 hours.

During an update on ongoing work to alleviate the current in Georgetown and its environs that began on Sunday May 31, Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson told media operatives at a press briefing that the city should be drained in 48 hours minus additional rainfall.

This is based on weather forecasters predicting that rainfall in the next 48 hours should be less than 50 millimeters, an amount that is considered manageable for the city. Patterson accompanied by City Mayor Hamilton Green, explained that at the last briefing only two of the city’s six pumps were working.

He said the pump at Sussex Street was fully operational while, the three others were expected to be operational by 6 PM Monday.

Immediately, he explained, desilting of the Cummings Street canal would commence by workers of his Ministry, the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) and City Hall.  The Kingston, Lamaha Street, Sussex Street and Meadowbank outfalls are slated for immediate desilting and the cost for this will soon be made available.

Minister Patterson was however appalled by the failure to upkeep the drainage system which he said was in place since the creation of the city, calling the neglect criminal. He said, “After looking at them I almost consider it a criminal activity to see the condition in which the outfalls are. I know there is neglect and then there is one stage beyond neglect which is criminal.”

He pointed to the money and man hours that have to be put in to fix the system, before pointing to the loss of crops, livestock and other properties that would have resulted from the flooding.

Patterson plans to take his request to Cabinet on Tuesday in the hope of obtaining the necessary funds to fix the drainage infrastructure.

He told the media that he has not yet met with the Finance Minister but he hopes that the Ministry is adequately resourced since, “The minister of Finance still cannot ascertain what is available to the country in the sense of what is in the kitty when there are several budgetary accounts all around…”

He said even with the 1/12 provision in law, the government has no budget and so emergency funds would have to be requested from Cabinet to address the city’s current situation.

“Present environment suggests optimum harmonization at the level of the Cabinet ministers and the municipality… there is no question about that, added Mayor Green. The Chief Citizen is adamant that the Council was deliberately starved of funds by sees a new future where the Council could have as it ought to.

The Public Infrastructure Ministry is also expected to seek assistance from the Ministry of Communities to remove sand, debris and other obstacles that have clogged several outflow areas.