BY MARK CUMMINGS Editor-at-Large, Western Bureau firstname.lastname@example.org
JOHN'S HALL, St James
Sixty -four-year -old Lascelle Grizzle and his family have been living peacefully and enjoying life at their home in the John's Hall community of St James for almost three decades.
But the peace and tranquility they have been enjoying began to wane since construction started over a year ago on a multi-million dollar bridge under the controversial Jamaica Development Infrastructual Programme (JDIP), a few feet from their dwelling.
Now, fed up with the existing conditions under which his family has been enduring and fearful for their safety, Grizzle wants to vacate the property, and is seeking compensation from Government for the damage done to his house, which he has attributed to the construction of the bridge.
" The best thing for them (Government) to do is to pay me and relocate me, and if them don't deal with me good, the bridge can't open. I am serious about that," an irate Grizzle told the Jamaica Observer West on the weekend.
Since work started on the project Grizzle said, his family which includes two young children, has been living in hell.
" From them start the construction of the bridge the whole of the house start to crack up and vibrate," said an obviously disappointed Grizzle.
"I have been telling them (workmen) from day one that the bridge is wrong. A number of people passing on the road even tell them that them can't put the bridge in my yard."
He pointed out that apart from the huge cracks that have developed on the floors and walls of his house, as well as on the concrete perimeter fencing, his dwelling is susceptible to flooding.
He noted too that in recent weeks sections of the property on which the house is constructed have been eroded, pointing out that a river runs behind the property.
"Whenever it rains heavily the water comes down all around the house and we can't even go outside. Right now I am even afraid to allow the children to go out in the yard because they might drop in the river," said Grizzle.
His common -law -wife, Arene Brown complained that the dust emanating from the construction of the bridge may have caused the death of her mother last December.
" My 90 -year-old mother has been living here for many, many years, but last year she took sick and when we took her to the doctor the doctor said it was because of the dust. So we brought her to another house in Lilliput to stay but she did not like it there because she was used to be staying with us...... so she fret on it and dead," Brown argued.
She added that the dust particles from the construction of the bridge, has forced her to do her laundry in a neighbouring community.
The construction of the facility, which is said to be about 95 per cent complete, forms part of a $551 million road realignment and bridge construction project in the John's Hall area, aimed at improving the ease and safety with which road users traverse that usually busy roadway.
The roadway falls along the corridor from Fairfield to Point in St James, and links communities such as Maroon Town and Springmount to the neighbouring city of Montego Bay. It is also used by residents travelling as far away as St Elizabeth, making their way into the resort city.
The project which is being undertaken by China Harbour Engineering Company with Y P Seaton and Associates as sub-contractors, also involves the construction of two reinforced box culverts, and the construction of 600 metres of roadway through the hills of John's Hall.
Grizzle told the Observer West on the weekend that two weeks ago a team which included Junior Transport and Works Minister Richard Azan, chief executive officer of the National Works Agency E G Hunter and Member of Parliament for the area Ed Bartlett toured the controversial construction site.
He said he met briefly with the team and told them about his plight.
" I spoke to them and told them about my problems and they promised to get back in touch with me. But up to now I have not heard a word from them," said Grizzle.
The bridge which could result in vehicles using it hitting Grizzle's house due to an apparent technical flaw, was highlighted at last week's sitting of the Parliament's Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC).
At that meeting, Bartlett said he would await a technical report commissioned by the NWA before commenting on the matter, while Hunter told the committee that the findings of the technical team will be made public when the report is complete.
Yesterday, Communication and Customer Service Manager at the NWA Stephen Shaw could not say when the technical report will be ready, but he added that a technical team from the agency visited the construction site on Monday.