Poor roads take bite out of 'Kruncy Nuts' in St Mary

BY RENAE DIXON
Observer staff reporter
dixonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, June 25, 2018

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AT least one family in Tremolesworth, St Mary, is speaking out about the poor condition of the main road there, arguing that the thoroughfare has been “extremely” bad for business.

The family, which operates a business in the community, is calling on the Government and the National Works Agency to repair the road and implement a proper drainage system.

Winston Cohen, owner of Krunchy Nuts, which produces peanut brittles and banana chips in Tremolesworth, argued that the road has caused a major setback for the family business.

Cohen told the Jamaica Observer North & East recently that he had plans with an exporter in Canada, however, due to the poor road condition, the agreement is on hold.

“The plan was to bring down a container and we load it with whatever they need. Whenever it is full they would come for it. However, they say the condition of the road is not acceptable. The farmers would benefit and we could employ more persons, but we can't go forward because of the road,” he said.

The community forms part of the Hampstead Division in the St Mary Central constituency, headed by People's National Party Member of Parliament Dr Morais Guy. The councillor for the division is the Jamaica Labour Party's Mitzi Hudson.

Cohen is among residents who have, for several years, repeatedly called for the road to be repaired.

He explained that some residents have given up farming because of how difficult it is to transport produce from the community to the market.

“If the road is fixed, people would be motivated to replant areas that have been abandoned,” he said.

A major road rehabilitation project was expected through the Jamaica Social Investment Fund, but the funds were reportedly used to mitigate the impact of recent flooding that affected the parish.

Observer North & East was also informed that other minor roads in the community are also in deplorable condition.

“All road networks are in a shamble. It's a headache when I travel on it,” Cohen said.

Paul Cohen, the production manager at Krunchy Nuts, said that the poor road conditions not only affect the operations of the factory and of farmers, but all development in the community.

“No real development can take place in the community. People don't want to come in because of the roads,” he said.

He explained that the community has solicited the services of State agencies such as the Social Development Commission, however, the poor road conditions have prevented the agencies from coming into the community.

“It's like an abandoned community; even when they have church functions, outsiders don't come,” he said.

He said there are farmers who are producing on a large scale in the community, however, the poor road conditions continue to hamper their livelihood.

These farmers also supply Krunchy Nuts with bananas.

In the meantime, with the further devaluation of the Jamaican dollar, Winston Cohen said it is time the Government do more to boost local production. He said imported products will become more expensive and so, local produce should be marketed more.

Additionally, he said it is important that farming and transportation are linked because there are too many farming communities with very poor road conditions.

“It's a turning point for Jamaica to assess farming in line with transportation, but I don't know when we are going to get it,” he said.

Meanwhile, Councillor Hudson said there are plans for the road to be fixed. She said an estimate has been done and a request made to have the road fixed through the Equalization Fund.

“When I became councillor, I did an estimate and sent it to the Equalization Fund,” she said, adding that the estimate then was $14 million.

“I have also approached the Ministry of Agriculture, seeing it is a farming community,” she added.

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