Manchester councillors say blocked drains affecting several areas

MANDEVILLE, Manchester – Mayor of Mandeville Donovan Mitchell says the allocation of $1 million for each constituency towards drain cleaning is woefully inadequate.

“My problem, though, is that I have seen [major] drains that will take 10 times the one million to clean. There is a particular drain in my division that right now you will need a backhoe to clean that drain and it is now flooding people’s farms and houses. I don’t know how they allocate funds,” Mitchell said at Thursday’s monthly meeting of the local municipality.

He said letters were sent to the Office of the Prime Minister outlining concerns regarding drain cleaning.

“The minister with responsibility for works has made it clear that he doesn’t have conversations with councillors and I am a councillor… We have written to his office and the Prime Minister’s Office asking for the dialogue. We have still not gotten a response,” said Mitchell.

He said blocked drains resulted in damage to private property during persistent rain on Wednesday.

Water from one of the drains, which the National Works Agency (NWA) has responsibility, the mayor said, was so much that it was blocked in a particular area and removed an entire 20-foot walll.

Councillor Dalton Brown (People’s National Party, Alligator Pond Division) called on the NWA to address blocked drains in south Manchester.

“The problem I am having is that while we maintain and clean the majority of our parish council drains. The drains that are to be maintained by the NWA, none of those have been cleared. In the lower section of the division – Sea Air, New Forest, Duff House, and Alligator Pond – the roads had water because those drains were not cleaned and that is the harsh reality that we face now,” he said.

“…The situation there is a bit grim in terms of where the main roads are. Even yesterday (Wednesday) there was severe silt build-up in Duff House on the NWA road, so we need some urgent attention,” he added.

Councillor Iceval “Cherry” Brown (Jamaica Labour Party, Grove Town Division) agreed with Mayor Mitchell that the allocation for drain cleaning is inadequate.

“In south Manchester coming into Mandeville is like a riverbed at certain sections. A million dollars cannot do the job,” she said.

Councillor Claudia Morant-Baker (JLP, Porus Division) also raised concerns about blocked drains, some of which she claimed have caved in.

“Everybody’s water comes down to us in Porus. The drains especially the NWA drains have caved in and water floods private property. The ones at Whitney turn are totally caved in, so attention needs to be brought to those drains. These are massive drains that run into people’s yards or between houses,” she said.

In the meantime, Acting Disaster Coordinator for Manchester Keval Lewis told councillors that the municipality is actively preparing for the Atlantic Hurricane season with 75 recommended shelters, and the managers consulted regularly.