Rural roads are next, says PM

Observer staff reporter

Monday, October 22, 2018

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — Prime Minister Andrew Holness has indicated that, as a complement to the renovation of some major thoroughfares across the island, the Government will shortly be focusing on networks of roads in rural communities.

“The Government very soon will have to shift focus to deal now with the other kinds of roads — the arterial roads, the roads leading into rural communities that have been neglected for years,” Holness said.

He was responding on Wednesday to pleas from Member of Parliament for Trelawny Northern Victor Wright for assistance to repair a number of pothole-riddled roads in his constituency.

Wright, who spoke ahead of the prime minister at the ceremony to hand over keys for 58 detached two-bedroom units constructed by the National Housing Trust in Castlewood, Granville in Trelawny, argued that the new homeowners will soon have to contend with the deplorable state of the roads in Trelawny Northern.

“The main road getting here (Castlewood) is one that is called Martha Brae to Spring Vale, and it covers Deeside, it covers Bounty Hall, it covers Granville, it covers Wakefield. And I can tell you, Mr Prime Minister, if your team had taken you 20 minutes up [the road], you would have been extra late for this function because the road is in such a deplorable condition that I think it is, based on scientific surveys, the number one issue that faces the constituency... and will face these new residents as soon as they have their keys,” Wright bemoaned.

He went on to suggest that “a sort of ZOSO for development” be implemented across the parish, “where we look holistically at all the supporting infrastructure that goes towards supporting developments like these (Castlewood Housing Scheme)”.

To make his case, the MP pointed out the disparity in the supply of potable water to the over two-centuries-old Daniel Town — which is plagued by a chronic water shortage — and a housing scheme just a stone's throw away.

In response, the prime minister admitted that attention is often diverted from previously existing communities, and offered a subtle apology.

“You mentioned, for example, that there is a town in this area that has been in existence for 200 years. Now, you can imagine that these areas can sometimes be forgotten — and it is a sad admission that this happens and that there are communities which are not focused on — but they are treasures for us and we have to find ways to preserve the treasures in those communities,” Holness said.

The $190-million Castlewood housing development also includes 25 service lots and a commercial lot.

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