Residents Hijack Road Repairs

MP AND PROTESTORS: MP Victor Wright converses with several persons who had converged on the offices of the NWA in Falmouth to voice their concerns about the plans to rehabilitate a stretch of road that they say is less important than the one they utilize which is in a far poorer condition. He used that opportunity to urge them to disperse.

written by: Shamir Brown/MGN

While many distressed communities across Western Jamaica continue to beg for attention to be paid to their rapidly deteriorating roadways, a number of Falmouth residents recently raised some eyebrows when they protested a multi-million-dollar government project that would have repaired a section a stretch of roadway in that community. For the residents, their refusal of that repair project was for good reason.

The proposed roadway earmarked for some 36 million dollars in repairs – the Martha Brae to Peru via Good Hope roadway, should not be given priority. This is according to the hordes of taxi operators, among other residents, who descended on a stakeholders meeting at the offices of the National Works Agency last Thursday to voice their dissent. The disgruntled residents instead insisted that the road leading from Martha Brae to Wakefield be given that injection of funds, as it is significantly more traversed than the roadway initially proposed.

Only some five percent of road users, predominantly tourists, use the Martha Brae to Peru via Good Hope roadway, while the remaining 95 percent uses the stretch of roadway that residents feel is being neglected. Member of Parliament for Northern Trelawny, Victor Wright, has expressed concern too about the proposed works, and is sympathetic to the plight of the affected residents.

According to MP Wright, though he understands that tourism interests would benefit from the 36-million-dollar repairs, allocation ought to be made for the roads majority of people who live and work in that community use. He highlighted that “the road Martha Brae to Good Hope was recently re-surfaced and therefore in a better condition”, and should therefore not be given priority over the parallel road – Martha Brae to Wakefield, which is in dire need of repairs.

Despite the MP’s arguments, however, he admits that the roads the residents are proposing to have work done on will cost significantly more money – over 700 million dollars. Even so, according to the MP, any ease is to that frequently used roadway would be welcomed by residents, who have to traverse it daily.

For years, according to several reports, residents have protested the conditions of the road. Taxi operators report that the road is a constant headache, as it significantly increases the wear and tear to their vehicles. In response, government agencies conducted several rounds of remedial work, none of which residents consider to be enough to be a solution to the problem. Residents are now demanding full rehabilitative work to be done on the roadway, to effectively put an end to that problem.

RIDDLED-ROAD: Motor vehicle operators take their time navigating this section of the pothole-ridden stretch of roadway from Martha Brae to Wakefield. Residents now demand that the roadway be fully rehabilitated. – Shamir Brown photos


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