Sun | Oct 2, 2022

Bamboo fingered in Lucea flooding déjà vu

Persons lighting fires under bridge urged to stop

Published:Thursday | August 18, 2022 | 12:09 AMBryan Miller/Gleaner Writer
Homer Davis (third right), state minister in the Office of the Prime Minister - West, on an inspection tour of the troubled Riley River at the eastern end of Lucea, Hanover, where bamboo gathering beneath a bridge has resulted in the flooding of the town.
Homer Davis (third right), state minister in the Office of the Prime Minister - West, on an inspection tour of the troubled Riley River at the eastern end of Lucea, Hanover, where bamboo gathering beneath a bridge has resulted in the flooding of the town. Also on Wednesday’s tour were (from left) Hanover Western Member of Parliament Tamika Davis; Lucea Councillor Easton Edwards; Lucea Mayor Sheridan Samuels; National Works Agency technical officer Gareth Bernard; and Hanover Municipal Corporation technical officer Dwayne Johnson.

WESTERN BUREAU:

Bamboo blocking the flow of the Riley River at the eastern entrance to Lucea has again resulted in the flooding of Hanover’s seaside capital.

The material, which is gathering in the vicinity of the Riley Bridge, created havoc on Tuesday night, weeks after a similar incident.

The Gleaner has been informed that the National Works Agency (NWA), which has responsibility for clearing the channel, has been repeatedly notified of the blockage by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management representative in Hanover, Kenisha Stennett-Dunbar, and Lucea Division Councillor Easton Edwards.

On previous occasions, the NWA told The Gleaner that estimates would have to be prepared and sent to its Kingston offices for approval before any work could begin.

Councillor Edwards expressed disgust at the situation, saying that the flow of the river was being hindered too often.

“This parish is the second largest producer of bamboo in this country. Bamboo is on either side of the Riley River ... . It should be of the highest importance that some amount of money is set aside that in the event that it is blocked, something can be done about it,” added Edwards.

He said that there needs to be routine maintenance.

Edwards further expressed concern that fires are reportedly being lit under the bridge in an attempt to clear the blockage, contending that this could eventually compromise the structure, which provides the only eastern entrance to Lucea.

“The bridge cannot take fire. When you burn concrete, then you are affecting the structure, and if we lose that bridge, what is going to happen to our tourism sector? What is going to happen to people who have to go to work and commute across that bridge?” Edwards questioned.

During a tour yesterday, Homer Davis, state minister in the Office of the Prime Minister – West, condemned the practice and urged those responsible to desist.

“It is illegal to burn fires in a public place, so there are no two ways about it,” he said as signs of scorching were observed on nearby trees, water mains, and on the underside of the bridge.

Davis was touring the troubled area with Hanover Western Member of Parliament Tamika Davis, Lucea Mayor Sheridan Samuels, Councillor Edwards, and technical officers from the NWA and the Hanover Municipal Corporation.

NWA Western Community Relations Officer Janel Ricketts told The Gleaner that burning is never part of the contractual agreements for clearing the bamboo and that the agency has not given any person permission to light fires in the area.

“We do not condone burning. That is never a part of the standards and procedures to do our work,” she said, promising to launch an investigation into the claim.

Ricketts said that a contract to clear the bamboo from under the bridge has been given out and that work began on Monday.

She added that work to clear bamboo from under the old Kew Bridge, located a few kilometres to the east of the Riley Bridge, has been completed.

bryan.miller@gleanerjm.com