DESPITE mounting international recognition, Clifton Brown — the star of the viral YouTube video "Nobody canna cross it/the bus can swim" — remains steadfast that access to his community is still his main concern.
"In spite of the video clip, the music, the dub plate, my main concern is the bridge," Brown told the Observer yesterday. "Because as I said, when it rains people can't go nowhere, nobody can cross it [river]," he said in his now popular accent.
Brown gained the media spotlight after 21-year-old Kevin-Sean Hamilton, a student of the University of the Technology (UTech), created a 'refix' of a recent TVJ news clip in which Brown complained about an unsafe bridge leading to his community of Robertsfield in rural St Andrew. The video has received more than 100,000 views on YouTube.
The video was Hamilton's second, following "The people are deading", a memoriam of events which unfolded during last year's unrest in West Kingston. That video has also been posted on Youtube.
Though not as serious as the first video clip, the "Nobody canna cross it/the bus can swim" piece has been featured on several local and international television and radio programmes — the latest being the American-network CBS.
But despite being hailed by neighbours as a "local star", Brown said he has still not received the objective of his pleas. Nothing has been done about the narrow bridge, which is covered by the powerful Yallahs River whenever there is heavy rainfall, he said.
"If a hurricane come and people go out and buy food, they can't get back to their houses because the water cover the bridge and it becomes very dangerous," he said, adding that the bridge also serves residents of more than six other communities.
"This [bridge] has been this way for more than 60 years and nothing has been done to it. I don't know if they (authorities) just don't have the money to fix it or what," said Brown.
"I feel like a star (because of the video's popularity). But I feel really good that somebody from the community can speak out and let the whole world see what we are dealing with," continued Brown, who has been working in the maintenance department at the Mavis Bank Coffee Factory for about 14 years.
Brown's co-worker, Latania Telfer, a resident of Hall's Delight, another community cut off whenever it rains heavily, said her experiences have been terrible.
"I have been living here for the past three years and it has been rough. There is absolutely no road, and there are three breakaways just to go to my house," she said.
"We wish the MP (member of Parliament) will come and do something for us, if it is even a walk-foot bridge, cause we are desperate," she said.
Yesterday, Mayor of Kingston Desmond McKenzie, following a visit to the area, reassured residents that help is on the way. He said, however, that it will take some time before work can be done on the bridge.
"The reality of the situation is that the whole road network needs to be considered because of the amount of land slippage there," said McKenzie. "Instructions have been given to carry out some remedial work to deal with the most dangerous area, and to put up some retaining walls," he continued, noting that work will start today.
As for the bridge, McKenzie said: "That is more of a long-term situation. The NWA will be coming up with a proper design for it."
The mayor, however, could not give a timeline or say how much it would cost to repair the bridge or build a new one.