J$2.7 billion rain damage bill
Prime Minister Andrew Holness said that it will take at least J$2.7 billion to reopen roadways and drains affected by the recent rainfall associated with Tropical Storm Zeta.
Some $2 billion is for National Works Agency (NWA)-controlled roads and drains, and $700 million for infrastructure that falls under the responsibility of the municipal corporations.
Holness said that the preliminary figure does not take into account the cost for the rehabilitation of roads and bridges that suffered extensive damage.
"Based on the extent of damage and the cost, all the required works will not be immediately done," Holness said. He said the Government will operate based on a priority system, the major one being reopening of blocked roads followed by the cleaning of critical gullies that are now heavily silted. He said that main thoroughfares will then be patched.
"Any resource allocation and expenditure must have in mind how we are going to stimulate the economy and how we are going to ensure that we get the economy back to full production. We have to look at the roads and infrastructure that we need to get back to full operation in order to support the economy and the NWA has been so guided," he said.
He said that Government would have to reallocate money from within the existing budget to deal with these rehabilitation works.
He said that the National Works Agency's preliminary assessments indicate that more than 80 roads islandwide were severely affected by rain-related events.
Each constituency will be allocated $3 million for members of parliament to respond to needy persons who have been adversely impacted by the weather system.
In the meantime, Holness said that he has been told by the NWA that the co-called 'caapet roads', including Constant Spring Road, Barbican Road and Camp Road, did not suffer major damage.