The National Works Agency (NWA) said it is ready for the 2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season and will spend approximately $543 million on disaster mitigation works this year, inclusive of drain cleaning and de-bushing activities.
The disclosure was made by Manager, Communication and Customer Services, NWA, Stephen Shaw, during a National Disaster Risk Management Council Meeting held recently at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston.
“We have J$100 million that we are getting ready to spend in respect of drains… and in very very short order, persons will be seeing activities on the roads,” he said.
“We have another J$100 million that we will be spending in the middle of the season, and at the back end, we are going to be spending another J$100 million. We have some monies that we are going to be using to do drain cleaning, and we have some de-bushing works,” Shaw added.
He explained that the budgeted J$543 million forms part of a comprehensive programme undertaken by the Agency.
“Very often persons hear of… the J$543 million, for example, and they will say is that the only money the Government is spending on this in terms of mitigation, and the answer is no, because when you look at the maintenance of secondary road programme, for which we would have spent somewhere in the region of J$3 or J$4 billion, much of that is being used to improve drainage features in areas,” Shaw pointed out.
“When we do retaining walls and so on through the maintenance of secondary roads programme, drainage infrastructure is also improved. I believe that this year, we are in a much better position than we were last year, given the structures that we would have finished,” he said.
Expansion of underground fibre-optic-cables
Shaw also noted that work is continuing on the expansion of the national underground fibre-optic-cable backbone.
The expansion will assist in building the country’s resilience efforts and ensure that communication is maintained during periods of adverse weather conditions.
“We have phased the works because it requires money, so in the eastern part of Jamaica, the fibre is being laid underground, and those are being put in, in the context of the Southern Coastal Highway Programme… from Harbour View to Port Antonio. Some of it is being done with the expansion of the East/West toll road, and others will follow not so long from now,” Shaw said.
He pointed out that the Agency continues to improve the island’s infrastructure.
“In terms of infrastructure, we have been moving to build resilience. So we would have installed or constructed more drainage features. We would have done bridge protective works, slope stabilisation, and gully cleaning,” he said.
“We are looking to, and we have done improved drainage capacities in terms of construction of new drains, box culverts, erection of retaining structures, and river-training works,” Shaw added.