DISCOVERY Bay, St Ann — Principal of Keith Primary School Radcliffe Gordon has joined community members in calling for improvement to the roads in the community, which he said are affecting the school negatively.
"The road is one of my major problems in terms of having school run the way it should run and for the school to provide the service that the school needs to provide," Gordon said.
"In terms of transportation, most of my teachers travel in from Brown's Town and it's a headache," he added.
The principal's comments came during a recent tour of the area by Member of Parliament for North West St Ann Dr Dayton Campbell and Councillor for the Dry Harbour Division Arthur Clemetson.
Gordon also explained that the taxis on the route are most times illegal, which is another challenge for teachers, students and community members.
The poor road conditions also limit the services available to the institution and forces Gordon, who also works as a teacher, to take on the task of going out of the community to source items for the school, a task which has proved to be very challenging.
"Services that we could get, for example, the goods truck to bring food and school supplies, they don't come in. So it means that I have to travel out and get these services," he explained.
Gordon says he has to travel about eight kilometres to the business areas of Brown's Town and Discovery Bay.
"That's really difficult at this time. Plus, I am in a situation where I am short staffed. I have to be teaching a grade four class now. I have to be administering and plus, I am given a new department since September so my situation is terribly affected because of bad roads and the other services that we don't have," Gordon bemoaned.
He added that the lack of Internet services at the institution has further worsened the situation as he has to travel outside the community to access information from the Ministry of Education.
"The Ministry of Education is now making contact with schools... All correspondence now comes via the Internet and I don't have access to that because of the services in this area and so it means again that I have to travel in to the ministry on a regular basis to pick up information so that I can be in touch with what is happening," he added.
Gordon said he also believed the poor road condition was also affecting the number of visits he received from his education officer and other personnel.
"They don't come as regularly as we would expect because of the condition of the roads," Gordon said, adding that that was a major drawback for the school.
"If the road situation is remedied then I am sure half of my problems would be solved," he added.
Residents, too, weighed in on the situation.
"The bus cannot take the hill so it has to go on the new road so the children at the bottom, they are suffering to go to school. Parents have to take them to cross road," Phyllis Lynch Forbes said.
"We can't get no ride sometimes fi go work. It rough, rough. I am 60 years old and I am experiencing this bad road from about 18 years old," Lynch Forbes added.
"Wi calling on the MP to do something, we can't take it no more," the elderly woman said.
Dr Campbell, who toured the Keith and Chester communities, labelled the two main roads among the worst in the constituency and said he has been lobbying to have them fixed.
"Both of them are roads that were identified. We have gone through and invited the (National Works Agency) team along. They have come through, they have done their estimates," he said.
The estimated cost to fix the Keith main road leading to the neighbouring Retirement community, was approximately $55 million and another $29 million for the Chester main road.
Dr Campbell said he has had dialogue with the minister of transport works and housing and has presented the estimates. The ministry, he said, was trying to find fiscal room to assist as the Constituency Development Fund of $15 million annually was inadequate to address roads and other constituency concerns.
But while he awaits the ministry's response, Dr Campbell said he will continue to sensitise the residents about the challenges, even as he tries to do what is possible.
The MP said some temporary work would have started earlier this month on the Retirement to Chester road with an allocation from the St Ann Parish Council.
However, it will take a lot more than that allocation to fully address the Keith main road, which is also in need of a proper drainage system.
Dr Campbell promised to give updates on the progress of the temporary works and the discussions on repairing the road in Keith.