Arnold Road residents donate money, labour to fixing road themselves
‘We couldn’t wait’
BY INGRID BROWN Associate editor – special assignment firstname.lastname@example.org
WHEN residents of Arnold Road in Prospect, St Thomas, needed the road in their community raised to stop their homes from being flooded, they did not take to the streets with the all-too-familiar placards and shouts of 'we want justice'.
Instead, they pooled their funds to purchase some of the materials and spent days prior to and even after Labour Day — observed May 23 — repairing the road themselves.
Encouraged by their actions, councillor for the Port Morant Division Victor Hutchinson sourced the rest of the material and members of the community, from the very young to the elderly, came out to offer what assistance they could.
While the stronger members of the group mixed cement, others formed human chains passing buckets of water, marl and gravel. Even members of the neighbouring community came to assist.
Cecil Wilson, who spearheaded the effort, said he did not expect that the residents would have responded as positively as they did.
"The support from the residents has been just so overwhelming, to see from the old to the young coming out to help," he said.
The residents were able to contribute $40,000, which was used to purchase some concrete culverts to begin the work. They had grown tired of being flooded out whenever there is a heavy downpour and decided to take matters into their own hands instead of waiting for the elected officials to eventually get around to solving the problem.
Councillor Hutchinson said he was determined to assist the residents to fix the road when he saw the major effort they had made to get it done on their own.
"I decided that come hell or high water I was going to try to get the material for them," he told the Jamaica Observer North East.
He said he immediately sought the assistance of Member of Parliament Dr Fenton Ferguson who secured the additional material they needed to complete the project.
"I would be somebody without sympathy to be a councillor and not heed this call because when you see these people spend $40,000 of their own money to purchase the culverts, we couldn't let them do it alone," he said.
He explained that their voluntary labour caused the project to see significant savings as labour would have accounted for about 30 per cent of the total cost of the project had he financed it all.
"When you multiply those 40 people by $2,000 a day for a day's work, that is a lot of savings and that would only be for one day," he said.
He pointed out that even the cement mixer which was being used was a loan from a resident.
"If we were to rent that cement mixer it would be a significant amount of money," he said.
"I would really like to encourage this in every area of the division and if every community across Jamaica would think this way we would be on our way to self-sufficiency," he added.
Resident Thelma Marriott told the Observer North East that the group was determined to see the road repaired, even if it meant doing it all by themselves.
"But we asked the councillor and he said he would help us and so we had a meeting and started to plan it for Labour Day," Marriott explained.
Making the point that citizens have to learn to help themselves and not wait on the Government to do everything, Wilson added: "We couldn't; we started it ourselves and then we asked for help."