'No more suffering'

Chesterfield residents grateful process for long-awaited bridge has started

Observer staff reporter

Monday, August 20, 2018

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RESIDENTS in Chesterfield, Castleton, St Mary, say that they are relieved construction is to begin for the bridge promised by Prime Minister Andrew Holness, which will facilitate easier commuting by linking the community to the Junction main road, also in the parish.

In August 2017, People's National Party Member of Parliament (MP) Dr Winston Green died, leaving the St Mary South Eastern seat vacant. Holness, during a by-election campaign in October that year, made a commitment to residents that the infrastructure would be put in place if the Jamaica Labour Party's Dr Norman Dunn is elected to Parliament.

Residents of the small farming community in Castleton have been forced to risk their lives getting to work, school, church, and other places outside their community by walking through the Wag Water River. Residents shared that at least five people have lost their lives over the past eight years and countless others injured trying to cross the river.

Earlier this month, Holness announced, via Twitter, that the process has started for the installation of the Chesterfield Bridge. “Residents have waited patiently and are equally happy to note that the commitment made by the government has been upheld,” the prime minister said.

Last Tuesday, the Jamaica Observer North & East visited the community to get residents' reactions to the news.

According to Clifton Nugent, a “wonderful thing” is happening in Chesterfield.

“I am 70 years old and almost 60 years now I've been seeing MPs, all types, coming and promising us a bridge. When this river comes, when this river is in spate, it's sometimes on the road. We have suffered a lot of injuries and deaths. This is wonderful as they have started. I have never seen them start in all my life. It's the first. We believe that we are getting it. I can't speak for everybody, but it will be a wonderful thing for me,” the small farmer said.

Lloyd Cleary believes that having to cross the river daily has caused him to develop an autoimmune disorder.

“Di water, it mash mi up. When mi deh out fi di whole day and come in and mi foot hot, mi haffi take off mi shoes in di water. So now arthritis take over. Although mi get old now and going, it will be good for di younger ones. From mi a baby and mi never see any MP move fi give wi one, so mi grateful 'cause mi a 70 now,” Cleary told Observer North & East.

Derrick Edwards, president of the Chesterfield/Castleton Citizens Association, said he has written to several institutions seeking assistance to build a bridge. Those letters were unanswered.

“I am 70 years old right now and I born come see no bridge in the community. People wash away and drown. All now wi nuh find dem. Books, school bags and all now wi nuh find dem. Wi haffi come out a morning time and wait pon di youths dem fi help dem cross. Di amount of people weh lose dem job because of di inconvenience of di river and all of that,” Edwards said.

He said that it was shortly before Holness's commitment that the community decided to build a temporary makeshift bridge with the help of the MP Dr Dunn.

“During the campaign for the election, the prime minister came over here (Chesterfield) and him walk and see di place. Him seh, boy, him haffi help wi. The bridge was in the pipeline though from a long time, because when di prime minister win him speak about di bridge and mi make some checks at di Ministry of Works. I see it on the agenda.

“Wi feel very happy and proud to know that the suffering from the river a come to an end. Wi have to say wi thank Mr Holness and wi thank Dr Norman Dunn for di assistance and help for di community,” said Edwards.

Roland Davis told Observer North & East that he was “proud” of the prime minister for commissioning the process.

“I am very happy that the prime minister has helped us. This is good; I'm living here 30 years and nothing nuh change,” Davis said.

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