Dust from dirt roads haunting residents of East Rural St Andrew

BY KARYL WALKER walkerk@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, August 01, 2014

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ON Wednesday, as the two young children walked with two female adults along a dirt road in the community of Resource in East Rural St Andrew anxiety was evident on their faces as the Jamaica Observer news vehicle approached.

The women and children pulled to the side of the road and were clearly relieved as the vehicle stopped metres in front of them.

Smiling, one of the women said: "If you never stop we would get dust up. It happen every time a vehicle pass," she said.

The women and children waved thankfully when they were allowed to walk for some distance before the vehicle drove off.

Resource is one of many districts of the coffee farming Blue and John Crow Mountain ranges where the residents complain bitterly that they felt forgotten by the authorities.

"We have no representative, no road and no water. We are a forgotten people," Kimola Willis said.

The drive from the district of Hall's Delight through the mountain range revealed a badly neglected roadway which left many residents holding their noses to protect themselves from the dust as vehicle rolled by at moderate speeds.

One resident said it was particularly hard on the children, many of whom were from the lower economic bracket and had to walk miles to school in the stifling dust.

"They have to wear one shoes to school and change it for another when them reach but by that time them clothes well dirty. The situation up here really bad," one woman said.

Some sections of the road can only accommodate one vehicle and proved treacherous to navigate as eroded embankments have left gaping precipices.

One elderly resident simply resigned himself to accepting that things would never change in his lifetime.

"Me live with this from me born and me don't think anybody who can change it care enough. Them all right so why bother even think about poor, black people like we? It make no sense we even have any hope that them going fix the roads," the man said as he smiled and shook his head.

The sentiment was the same in the districts of Clydesdale, St Peters and Halls Delight.

"We are glad to see you. Maybe you can put our living condition out there for the world to see that nobody cares about us up here. Our children are suffering from lung diseases and the elderly are suffering, too. The dust is killing us off slowly," one woman said.

After the approximately 30-mile journey through the hilly terrain, the light brown coloured dust seemed to be caked all over the Observer's vehicle.





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