Opposition Leader Marlon Penn asked on May 13 in the House of Assembly about the availability of $200,000 that was allocated to each district under the “civil mitigation vote” in the 2021 budget.
Transportation, Works and Utilities Minister Kye Rymer, whose ministry is responsible for the oversight of infrastructure work in the districts, responded, “Yes, this allocation is available to each district, One through Nine.”
Mr. Penn thanked the minister and said, “Prior to asking this question, we were told it wasn’t available. I’m glad to know that it’s now available for persons within the districts [so] representatives could do the necessary works within their districts.”
He did not specify who told him the money was unavailable. Mr. Rymer said he was not aware that representatives were so advised, but he was glad to make it clear these funds are free to be used.
Mr. Penn asked in a follow-up question whether recurrent funds designated in the 2021
budget for cleaning up the districts were now available for use. Mr. Rymer responded, “Whatever is in the budget should be available, but I will confirm with my team.” In response, Mr. Penn explained, “We were also subsequently told that those monies weren’t yet available within the agreed allotment in the budget. We look forward to your follow-up response on that so that persons within our communities could get the necessary relief in those areas, as it relates to ghut cleaning, etcetera.”
In another question to Mr. Rymer, the opposition leader inquired about government’s plans
to clean the ghuts, waterways and drains in the Eighth District — and throughout the territory — ahead of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season. The season officially begins on June 1 and ends Nov. 30.
Mr. Rymer said the Public Works Department began cleaning drains the first week of May.
“Given the financial constraints that we are currently experiencing due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Public Works Department will carry out the majority of the cleaning using internal resources — hence the early start,” he said. “However, where there may be a need for external resources, the respective representative for the area will be consulted.”
The opposition leader thanked Mr. Rymer for the response and shared his hope that some more neglected areas in his district would soon be addressed considering residents have started taking it upon themselves to clear the system. The cleaning, he added, should help reduce the spread of mosquitoes in the communities.
“There are some specific areas that we’ve been having a challenge getting clean over the last two years, more specifically Parham Town and by the Red Bay dock,” he said.