Regional

We have been forgotten

Residents of Long Road, St Mary, fear they've been neglected by authorities; road not fixed since 1994

BY DEANDRA MORRISON
Observer staff reporter
morrisond@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, March 19, 2018

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Residents of the remote district of Long Road, close to Annotto Bay in St Mary, fear that they have been forgotten by their local government representatives.

“We a wonder if anyone remember that we are around here, because the road has not been fixed since 1994 when a Canadian company sponsored the money to fix it,” said Trevor Baugh, who revealed that he has been living in the community for over 55 years.

Baugh, a painter, who was working on a house on the roadway when he stopped to speak with the team from Observer North and East, said that lack of maintenance over so many years has caused the road to badly deteriorate, thereby making it difficult for the residents of Long Road.

“When the rain fall it is literally a river course. If you were coming this way when rain fall, you wouldn't dare do it because you would be afraid. You wouldn't even know where to put your wheel,” insisted Baugh.

He added: “Any six-year-old child can wash away whenever we have heavy rainfall.”

He also pointed out that inefficient culverts along the roadway are also to be blamed for the flooding, which further causes the road to break away.

“The other day myself and other men from the community spent three days trying to fix a section of the road,” he informed, while adding that members of the community chipped in to provide the men with lunch.

Another Long Road resident, Sharlene Simpson, shared her concern for students who had difficulty using the roads to and from school in the community.

“The children will leave out from 6:00 am and not reach to school until 9:30 am because of the bad roads and vehicle problems,” she said.

She also explained that because of the state of the roads taxi drivers were reluctant to work on the route, especially when it gets dark.

Simpson further stated that those taxi drivers who dare to ply the route charge up to $2,000 per person after 9:00 pm to transport stranded residents from Annotto Bay to the Long Road community — a trip which normally costs $150.

The team from Observer North and East travelled the rocky six-mile road from Annotto Bay to Long Road Primary School, which is located in the community. Acting principal at the school, Sharon Brown, also aired her concerns for students who she said make a 'tiresome' trek to and from school each day.

“It is usually a 45-minute drive to the Long Road Primary School; however, it now takes at least an hour and a half to get to the school.

“Students who are coming from Annotto Bay and Fort George (a nearby community) have grave problems because if they are not on time, then they will either not turn up for school or be very late for school,” said Brown.

She also pointed out that the Long Road Primary School, which currently accommodates 45 students from grades one to six, was also in need of attention from the Government.

“We have been in desperate need of a retaining wall for many years now,” she said while pointing to an unfenced precipice that jutted out from the side of the school's premises.

Brown added that the school's past student association had raised funds overseas in 2012 to aid in building a wall, but the funds have not been forthcoming.

She offered that the Ministry of Education ways aware of the 'dangerous escarpment' but nothing has been done.

“It is a very sore problem and we've done fund-raisers in the community for the school in an effort to build the wall. However, because the district is small and many persons are unemployed, it is hard to raise enough funds,” said Brown.

She also indicated that members of the community have made several attempts at making a temporary fencing out of bamboo trees, but these barriers do not last for long.

“The safety of the students is at risk and we do not want to wait until something tragic happens before we get some help from the ministry,” she said.

She noted that old tyres with signs warning students of the danger of the precipice were cemented around the area, but those went missing shortly afterwards.

The principal also advocated for school equipment, such as computers, that would not only aid in the primary school student learning, but also other students in the community.

“It would be good if students in the community did not have to go all the way to Annotto Bay to complete School Based Assessments and other assignments,” she reasoned.

“Long Road is in a remote area and our students need access to these things too,” she said.

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