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COVID-19 will not affect roadwork in St Thomas – NWA

Published:Saturday | May 9, 2020 | 12:07 AMShanna Monteith/Gleaner Writer

The National Works Agency (NWA) has given the assurance that the recent outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic will not affect the roll-out of the highly anticipated Southern Coastal Highway Improvement Project in St Thomas and Portland.

In fact, the agency revealed that major construction work on five of 15 packages under the project was already under way, three of which are based in St Thomas, to the tune of some $3.7 billion.

The announcement was made by NWA’s communication manager, Stephen Shaw, during a tour of the parish on Wednesday.

He shared that the three phases were Morant Bay to Georgia, Georgia to Cedar Valley, and Morant Bay to Prospect and that the scope of the work will see to the construction of drains, retaining walls, and box culverts.

“Recognising the importance of the road, where the economy is concerned, we’re pushing ahead with our construction activities. As it regards the work on the Southern Coastal Highway Improvement Programme, much work is taking place.

“What we are seeking to do is to tick off critical items that are precursor items to other things being done under the contract. So, for example, you’ll observe that work is taking place in Morant Bay, where a sea wall is required,” he said of an embankment located on Wharf Road that was destroyed by heavy rains many years ago.

CONSTRUCTION PROCESS

Shaw continued, “Along the road from Morant Bay to Cedar Valley, we have several bits of works taking place, mainly to do with drainage features and bridges. We are going to be extending and reconstructing several drainage features, to include bridges, along the road. We also will be doing extensive retaining-wall construction because, especially along the road of Georgia to Cedar Valley, we have had situations where walls have been washed away, houses and graves collapsed into the river, and walls being damaged. Works on these have already begun.”

The work, according to Shaw, will provide employment opportunities for many persons within the various communities and across St Thomas.

“We know that in respect of retaining structures, many persons in the parish and in the direct communities will be employed because the construction of retaining walls is highly labour-intensive. It’s not that we’re going to be using mass concrete, it will be traditional walls that we are going to be putting up, so there will be the need for persons to be employed. We look forward to working with the people in the parish, those who are skilled labourers or semi-skilled. Once they are willing to be engaged, the contractors and subcontractors will have use for them at the appropriate time,” Shaw said.