MP joins Trelawny taxi operators in calling for road repair

MP joins Trelawny taxi operators in calling for road repair

BY HORACE HINES
Observer staff reporter
hinesh@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

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MARTHA BRAE, Trelawny — Trelawny Northern Member of Parliament Victor Wright has called on the authorities to allocate funds to rehabilitate the 14-mile pothole-riddled corridor stretching from Falmouth to Spring Vale in his constituency, which he said is among the top five roads in greatest need of repair in the country.

“I call on the NWA (National Works Agency) and all the operatives, if they are doing a prioritisation of roads across the country that needs repairs — there are many — but I know that this one would feature in the top five. Therefore, if any money is going to be spent on any road at all, then this road is one that deserves some amount of funding,” said Wright.

He was speaking to scores of taxi operators who yesterday withdrew their services to drive home the point that the much-traversed thoroughfare is in urgent need of rehabilitation. The cabbies complained that the deplorable state of the road frequently triggers the need for them to dig deep into their pockets to replace defective front end parts.

Manager, communication and customer services at NWA, Stephen Shaw told the Jamaica Observer that, ironically, a short-term patching exercise was supposed to be carried out on the stretch of road yesterday, but had to be put off because of the demonstration.

“We have some short-term measures that we have been implementing. As a matter of fact, we had planned to start some work today (yesterday) through a small allocation that we have, coupled with funds that the Member of Parliament received through the dengue mitigation programme that also included some patching. The patching aspect was not carried out in December because of the amount of time, and we wanted to concentrate on doing some drain-cleaning and bushing. So we had actually set sight on starting some patching today,” Shaw noted.

Yesterday, several commuters were left stranded as the placard-waving cabbies lined up their vehicles on one side of the road in Martha Brae, just outside of Falmouth, in a peaceful protest for attention to be paid to the road. However, they objected to it being patched, citing the need for the busy road to be resurfaced.

“We tired of patching; just give us a decent road,” Benton Easy, who plies the Martha Brae to Wakefield route, implored.

Davion Lawrence, who operates his taxi from Falmouth to Deeside, expressed similar sentiments.

“I have been running the taxi on this road for the last 10 years now and this road has been ever like this. The last time we blocked the road they promised to patch it. They came and patched two holes and left. It's been years now and we tired of it,” Lawrence said.

The commuters who travel the route are from Falmouth, Martha Brae, Zion, Granville, Hammersmith, Bounty Hall, Wakefield, Bunkers Hill, Dromilly, Deeside and other major communities.

President of the Coastal Transport Association in Trelawny, Nathalie Grant emphasised that the deplorable condition of the road not only affects her membership, but emergency vehicles as well.

“I am here in solidarity with the drivers. We are not asking for anything out of the ordinary, we are just asking for good road conditions. It's not like a luxury, it is the basic amenity in order for them to carry out their work. It's not only for the taxi operators, it is also for emergency vehicles such as police and ambulance,” Grant argued.

The drivers converged from about 8:00 am to early afternoon yesterday. Students were not adversely affected by the protest.

Meanwhile, Wright argued that while he welcomed last year's repairs to the road from Martha Brae to Peru via Good Hope, from a $36-million allocation from the Tourism Enhancement Fund, he expressed that the Falmouth to Spring Vale corridor should be made a priority.

“If you can allocate money to fix a tourism road that two per cent of the constituency uses, then you can allocate money to fix a major road that the other 98 per cent uses, and that's what I am calling about. So they allocate money to fix like this road here (Good Hope), I wasn't told about it. I'm not objecting to the road being fixed, because it is in my constituency. I am saying that you have to have some equity — if you are doing there, then do some of here. Allocate some money for some of here,” Wright insisted.

“I am for the tourism interest, I am for the road to be repaired, but I am also for the citizens. I am also for the schoolchildren, for the tourist worker that needs to get to work, for the everyday person that need to get to the hospital to be afforded the opportunity of having a good road. So for me, it's just an issue of prioritisation,” he said.


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