BY GARFIELD MYERS Editor-at-large South/Central Bureau email@example.com
SANTA CRUZ, St Elizabeth - Fifty-three-year-old Vernon Ledgister has lived in Dalintoba all his life, but claims he can barely remember the last time there were any repairs to the district road.
"It must be 10, 15 years," he told the Jamaica Observer. "Once upon a blue moon."
Last Thursday, Ledgister and others listened as the state minister in the works ministry, Richard Azan, pledged that eight kilometres of road from Dalintoba to Fustic Grove will be rehabilitated at a cost of $91 million.
The work to be funded as "part of what remains under work order 15 of the Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme (JDIP)", is scheduled to start "before the end of October" and "has to be completed before the end of next March", Azan told residents and journalists.
He conceded that wet weather this time of year could prove a hindrance, but pledged that the work would be done within the time frame announced.
Member of Parliament for South West St Elizabeth Hugh Buchanan, who said completion of the road would satisfy an election promise, told the residents that "today is a day of celebration".
Ledgister, meanwhile, who told the Observer that the roadway was so badly scoured and riddled with potholes that taximen charge extra to use it, obtained a wait-and-see attitude.
"We have been living off promises for all this time, so now dem say it come through, we looking forward to it," he said.
Azan and other speakers, including communications manager of the National Works Agency Stephen Shaw, as well as Buchanan, reminded residents that they, too, had a responsibility to protect the road.
"Don't block the drains," warned Azan, pointing out that blocked drains will inevitably lead to water damage on road surfaces. "You can't get the road and then block the drains because your MP can't come again and ask (government) to fix this road ... we must be looking at another road ..." said Azan.
He also said it was the responsibility of the community to help maintain the road.
"We don't want to see a road block up and you are waiting on MP and councillor ... you must clear that drain...," the junior minister continued.
Azan claimed that his ministry was spending more than $300 million on roadways in St Elizabeth this financial year. This included $110 million on the patching of 32 roadways, he said.