BY COREY ROBINSON Sunday Observer staff reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
PORTMORE'S Mayor, George Lee, is hopping mad about the lack of attention that the National Works Agency (NWA) has been paying to the Hellshire main road — the major thoroughfare to one of Portmore's most popular 'chill spots'.
On a weekly basis, hundreds of persons make the trek to the popular fishing beach to enjoy the warmth of the Caribbean sea, or to indulge in some of the best seafood offerings on the island's coast. But the deplorable state of the roads that take paying patrons there are a sore point for the mayor.
Lee voiced his concerns as he announced that the municipal council will, in September, roll out a multimillion dollar road repair project in the St Catherine municipality.
"We are very displeased, I could say almost angry, that, for instance, the Hellshire Road that was under JDIP (Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme), all that remains there is a solitary sign that reminds us of what should have been but was not," said Lee.
"The Hellshire road should have been upgraded and it wasn't touched, although it was in the JDIP programme, and it is deteriorating. That is a big disappointment," said Lee, explaining that in recent months the NWA has carried out repair work on numerous roads in Portmore.
He said, however, that the Hellshire main road is not the only one overlooked by the government agency, which has responsibility for the maintenance of major roadways.
"There are roads operated by the National Works Agency (NWA) and some that we (the municipal council) have. The National Works Agency did repair a number of roads over the last couple of months, but there were a couple left for them to repair," he said.
The Sunday Observer team travelled on the Hellshire main road last week, and observed motorists dodging potholes on their way to the community.
The dexterity excercise seemed more daunting with speed, with the lowlights being the decrepit stretch at the entrance to the Hellshire beach, where fishermen occasionally scrape money together and purchase material to patch sections of the roadway.
But not everyone is eager to assist, said a male shop operator at the entrance to the beach.
"Them from down there (fishermen) come fix it more time, but is long time now that nothing don't do to it," said the operator.
"More time they ask the hotel man for money to help fix it but him say he pays heavy taxes, and so is government who must come fix it," said the man in reference to the operator of a hotel located adjacent to the beach entrance.
While not able to comment on the NWA's plans for the Hellshire road, the mayor disclosed that plans were in place to address other roads in the municipality.
"There are a number of roads that need fixing and we have a programme to start in September to do some extensive repairs to our internal roads," he continued, He would only offer that "a couple millions" would be spent, when asked about the project's budget.
Yesterday, Colin Morrison, NWA's senior corporate communications officer addressed the mayor's claims and confirmed that the angency did have outstanding projects underway in Portmore. However, he declined to speak to them indepth as he did not have the official documents on hand at the time of the Sunday Observer's queries, he said.
"Certainly we have done some work in Portmore, and I know that the Hellshire main road, if work hasn't already began, it is certainly scheduled for rehabilitation work," said Morrison.
"I don't have the list before me, but I know that road was identified for work, I can state that definitively," he said.