Thu | Nov 30, 2023

Poorly maintained drains causing flooding

Published:Friday | September 30, 2022 | 12:06 AM


One of Jamaica’s perennial issues is the poor maintenance of drainage systems across the 14 parishes. Poor drainage affects both urban and rural communities.

Our rural communities have the greatest concentration of agri-businesses, and drainage ensures that the soil is properly aerated. Ineffective or poor drainage results in excess or standing water that can choke crops. Drainage also reduces soil and nutrient loss from runoff and can help avoid soil erosion.

We have witnessed, every time when it rains heavily, that the lack of proper drainage on hill slopes causes soil slippage or landslides, thus using up unnecessary financial resources in clearing roads. Prime Minister Andrew Holness says ‘ “very preliminary” estimates indicate that it will take $360 million to reopen roads across Jamaica’ ( The Gleaner, September 29), due to the recent heavy sheets of rain from the outer bands of Ian.

In urban towns, especially in Mandeville, whenever it rains pedestrians suffer, as poorly constructed roads and sidewalks are inundated with rainwater runoff from roofs without downspouts and gutter systems, and asphalt driveways and car parks without ditches, resulting in soaked shoes damaged by water. This problem is further compounded with blocked drainage systems for intentional channelling of excess water through underground trenches.

Sadly, our drainage system is both a political and education problem. Every parish should have control to implement weekly or monthly maintenance of its drainage systems. We know that maintenance is a vital part to keeping a system efficiently functioning.

Every parish should have an assigned, approved engineer. Drainage is often a major element of civil engineering and construction projects and is necessary to avoid flooding and other damage. How can one account for municipalities responsible for approval of building constructions, ignoring natural land drainage systems, commonly called ‘sinkholes’, causing them to be filled up for construction of buildings, and disrupting natural water runoffs, resulting in flooding communities? Mandeville is one such victim.

We also have a lack of knowledge on the importance of drainage that was to be found in school curriculum. How else can we account for our failure in continuing with a culture of maintenance rooted in both the knowledge and experiences of past generations and civilisations?


Mandeville, Manchester