The discomfort and inconvenience that come with heavy downpours for people living in and around Speightstown in St Peter should soon be coming to an end, as Government prepares to start Phase Two of a project aimed at ensuring water flowing into the area ends up in the ocean as opposed to people’s homes.
Minister of Housing and Member of Parliament for St Andrew, George Payne, introduced a resolution in the House of Assembly, which will see the construction of a new culvert under the Speightstown Bypass Road. The veteran parliamentarian said, “Phase 1 of this project started at the coastline near Fisherman’s Pub and this was completed in 2005. Now, the Barbados Tourism Investment Inc. (BTII) has got a loan from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) for $4.6 million to do Phase 2. The BTII will be contributing $560,000 to the cost, and a consultant has done preliminary designs for the area.”
The resolution also paved the way for eight landowners in the construction zone whose land was acquired for the project to be compensated. Payne said the funds amounted to just under $1 million and he hoped the matter would be settled shortly.
In welcoming the resolution, Member of Parliament for St Peter and lifelong resident of the parish, Colin Jordan, noted that Speightstown has been a “collection point” for water flowing through several gullies from as far up as Indian Ground and feeding through Mount Brevitor, Whim Gully and Sailor Gully and Warleigh.
Jordan stated that people living in the Speightstown area had complained about the size of the culverts for many years but they were ignored by the “technocrats” involved in the initial projects.
“I am asking technocrats in the ministries we now lead to listen to the people. It is not enough for us to assume we have all the training. People who have lived there all their lives have seen for themselves what happens, so it is good to get their input.”
Jordan, the Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, said the current canal was only six feet wide, which was not wide enough given the volume of water that flowed through it, so the new project would bring about a wider and deeper canal.
Minister in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Maintenance and MP for St Lucy, Peter Phillips, who said he had gone to school and worked in Speightstown for many years, said while the Drainage Unit was back up and running again and was ready to start clearing blocked drains and wells in the area, illegal dumping in the gullies was a significant contributor to the flooding as well.
“We must stop the illegal dumping. I did a tour where I saw fridges, stoves, mattresses, just dumped in a gully, and if we continue to dump indiscriminately we will create issues down the road.”
Both Phillips and MP for Christ Church West Central, Adrian Forde, called on Barbadians to organize their own community clean ups.
Phillips said, “I want to encourage all Barbadians to come together for a few hours, and we as MPs can also roll up our sleeves and work with the people in our communities to keep our constituencies clean and free of potential health hazards.”