Flooding swamps Villa Rd
Members of the business community along Villa Road in Mandeville are seeking answers from the authorities as floodwaters continue to dampen profits and months-long repairs to a faulty drainage system prove inadequate.
The $14.6-million road repair, which began sometime in July and included the installation of a soakaway mechanism, is yet to end their misery, business people have said.
“As it rains, it floods, even 10 minutes ... . They were here for almost three months digging and drilling, and I don’t know if they were doing the right thing,” said restaurateur Suzzette Kennedy on Sunday.
“They need a drain on both sides. When it is flooded, no one can cross. People have to climb on the wall to cross, and it is dangerous.”
Days of torrential rain rendered sections of the road impassable, with pools of stagnant water forcing merchants to keep their doors closed.
Businessman Patrick Marche said he was not only worried about the inconvenience to commerce, raising concerns about health risks such as the potential of a dengue outbreak.
“If Sunday was a business day, then no one would be able to access the plaza as the water is very deep both for vehicular and pedestrian access. In fact, I had intended to go across to a shop on Villa Road and was unable to do so today using that access,” said Marche.
And business owner Bevon Spence told The Gleaner that he has, in the past, had to create temporary fixes to reduce the overflow of water in the vicinity of his operation. But he said that the magnitude of the problem required major intervention by the municipal authorities.
“The entire car park is engulfed in water ... . At the deepest point, the water is about three feet, and I’m not sure when we will be able to reopen. We have to wait until the water soaks away,” Spence said.
At the most recent Manchester Municipal Corporation meeting, Mayor Donovan Mitchell confirmed that repairs to Villa Road totalled $14.6 million and that the progress was 90 per cent complete.
The mayor said that the initial plan was to drill to 60 feet to reduce the water on the road surface but that engineers encountered challenges. He said that the contractors would complete the project when they arrived at a means of channelling the water into the soakaway.
Sections of Manchester, including in Mandeville, Plowden, and New Forest, were rendered impassable on Sunday after floodwaters rose to several feet on roadways.
Calls to Mitchell on Sunday to seek answers on a long-term fix for flood-prone areas went unanswered.