34 communities in St Elizabeth benefiting from NIC drainage programme

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Thirty-four communities in St Elizabeth continue to benefit from the National Irrigation Commission (NIC)’s drainage of the upper and lower morass of the Black River.

Drain maintenance works conducted by the NIC facilitates flood mitigation for several communities, including Siloah, Santa Cruz, New River, Holland, Slipe, Middle Quarters, Thorton, Maggotty and Lacovia.

NIC Director for Engineering and Technical Services, Rohan Stewart, said this is a critical aspect of the commission’s mandate, which protects citizens and their properties.

“Drainage activities allow for the reclaiming of land for agricultural activities and the clearing of waterways, which add value to recreation and tourism businesses,” he said.

Stewart further stated that the NIC’s operation in the St Elizabeth drainage area is outlined in the law.

“Under Section 4 of the Irrigation Act, the NIC is mandated to drain sections of the Black River, specifically the upper and lower morass. The upper and lower morass of the Black River spans across scores of communities from Siloah in the north to Santa Cruz in the east, Black River in the west and to the sea in the south,” he informed.

Additionally, Stewart said the drainage schedule impacts an area of 10,677 hectares of land, encompassing canals and drains.

“The total length of canals and drains is approximately 237 kilometres. The commission uses a combination of mechanical and manual methods to maintain the drains at a ratio of 53 per cent to 47 per cent respectively,” he indicated.

Meanwhile, to improve drainage works, the latest addition of machinery is an amphibious excavator, which was acquired in 2022 at a cost of approximately $78 million.

“This has allowed the commission to clean an average of 10 kilometres of drains per month. The NIC is committed to the mandate of maintaining the drains and keeping the lives and livelihoods of residents in the morass safe,” he said.

For more details on the work of the NIC, visit www.nicjamaica.com.