Fix it!

Residents of Cottage Pen in St Thomas demand new drainage system as recent showers flood houses

BY FALON FOLKES
Observer staff reporter
folkesf@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, May 14, 2018

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RESIDENTS in Cottage Pen, St Thomas, say that they have grown tired of the lack of action by the St Thomas Municipal Corporation to construct a proper drainage system in their community, which floods whenever it rains heavily.

The community was again impacted by last week's rain, which left several homes along the Seaforth Main Road flooded.

According to the residents, several drains and gullies which run through the rural community have not been cleaned in months. They told the Jamaica Observer North & East that they pool together to clean the systems themselves as a result, and are calling for a new one to be put in place.

“Basically di water from over di scheme (Red Hills Housing Scheme) every time it come cross it a mash we up; flood out di place. We need a drain around here fi contain the water cause when water a come, a loads a water a come down from off a di scheme. We talk 'bout di gully and drain dem loads a time fi dem fix dem and all now. Di gully need fixing. We need di gully dem fi fix 'cause di water a mash we up,” Christopher McQueen told the Observer North & East when the team visited the community last Wednesday.

According to the man, who has lived in Cottage Pen all his life, whenever it rains heavily, the runoff from the mountains behind the housing scheme settle in their homes.

“Di mountain deh back a di scheme suh when di water a come down di whole a di drain flood out,” McQueen explained.

Another resident, Winston Bull, said that when this happens the busy thoroughfare, which leads to Seaforth and Spring Garden, is submerged. He also said that the drainage system in place is outdated, and insisted that the authorities revisit the community.

The then Ministry of Transport and Works, in 2015, introduced new drainage system guidelines for the island's real estate developers to follow in order to get their development projects approved.

The new Guidelines for Preparing Hydrologic and Hydraulic Design Reports for Drainage Systems of Proposed Development Applications document was launched to help mitigate the country's high incidence of flooding mostly due to urbanisation and climate change impacting the performance of drainage systems.

Despite this, residents said that a new phase to the housing scheme has been added on without upgrading the current drainage system.

“A long time di scheme over deh and dem all add on a new phase, phase two. Mash we up again. Anytime di rain fall di whole a di something dem flood out. We tired fi tell dem. We tell everybody; all di prime minister know,” Bull reiterated.

“A we haffi clean it (the gully). When roadwork a run like fi clean gully and dem ting deh, yuh nuh believe me seh dem nuh come round here. We nuh get nuh money, nuh grant fi right here suh clean out all now,” McQueen interjected.

Una Duff argued that the drains and gullies were in fact cleaned, but “only when time you have elections. “You will see dem come 'round when a election because that's voting time. Outside of that you nuh see dem.”

Bryan Russell, who also resides in the area, explained that once upon a time backhoes were used to clear the gullies and drains; however, he said that stopped when sugar cane planting ceased.

“But true cane planting give up couple years now, di gully naa dig out nuh more. Suh each time dirt and debris come, it just full up full up full up till it become flat.”

He said that last week's rainfall was not as detrimental as previous heavy showers, but that they need help and are worried, because of past experiences.

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