Government has not abandoned the residents of White Hill, St Andrew, even though it is yet to come up with a “doable and sustainable” solution to their current road crisis.
Ministry of Transport and Works Michael Lashley reluctantly spoke to reporters about the issue this morning after a tour of the MTW’s Through The Years exhibition of photographs at the Grande Salle of the Central Bank.
Lashley, while complaining that he was not feeling “a hundred per cent”, revealed that a geotechnical study was still on the cards to determine the best way forward.
He also said a technical team in his ministry, led by acting Chief Technical Officer Nash Lovell, was working on the plans and would update the media in about a week’s time.
Heavy rains in November 2014 caused extensive land slippage, rendering the main road impassable before it was condemned a month later.
So far, efforts by Government to repair the damage have been unsuccessful, as sections of a temporary roadway recently collapsed following heavy rains.
He said the temporary road was to make the community accessible until the study was conducted and the major works carried out.
“But what we are doing now, in terms of a doable solution, we have to make sure that we fulfill our statutory obligation and we do all the diligence. So we have to get basic and sound geotechnical advice and evidence,” he said.
Lashley said his ministry had already received permission from the Ministry of Finance “as a matter of urgency” for the scientific study to be carried out, adding that the work would have to be done in conjunction with other Government ministries and departments.
Without giving details, Lashley also said Cabinet had approved the Ministry of Housing and Lands to move “at least five or six residents in the second phase” to another community.
“I am informed that they have selected a private contractor and NHC [the National Housing Corporation] will also be building some of the houses too,” he added.
Acting Permanent Secretary Simone Rudder further stressed that the ministry was in the process of “organizing our technical people” in order to know exactly what steps were necessary to take next.
Pointing out that the study to be carried out was “a highly scientific” one, Rudder said, “it is a geophysical study so that the ministry knows exactly what work needs to be done in order to have a doable and sustainable solution”.
She defended the ministry’s efforts to build the temporary road about six months ago, saying it was done “with all the ministry’s expertise, but as you saw the land has given away, so it is nothing to do with the ministry’s expertise and care and concern.
“So what is necessary now is this scientific study as the basis for the future,” added Rudder, who could not say how long the study would take, but pointed out that it would involve other Government ministries.
Today’s exhibition of transportation and other infrastructural developments, which featured 26 pictures, forms part of the MTW’s yearlong celebration for the island’s 50th anniversary of political independence from Britain.