BY MARK CUMMINGS Editor-at- Large, Western Bureau firstname.lastname@example.org
MONTEGO BAY, St James - Councillors from both sides of the political divide at the St James Parish Council are demanding that the transport and works ministry resume work on a number of stalled projects in the parish there were being undertaken under the controversial multi -billion dollar Jamaica Development Infrastruce Pogramme (JDIP).
"We need answers; we need to know when the work will resume because the situation is unbearable," Michael Troupe, the deputy mayor and councillor for the Granville Division (PNP) told last Thursday's regular monthly sitting of the council.
Work started more than a year ago on 12 road sections in the parish under JDIP at a cost of roughly $1.5 billion. The projects were expected to be completed within a year.
But the programme — funded mainly by the Chinese government — later ran into difficulties, resulting in its suspension in December.
The suspension left all the projects in the parish of St James incomplete.
These include the:
* Fairfield to Point — being done at a cost of $385 million — 45 per cent complete;
*Spring Mount to Sunderland-- being done at a cost of just over $72 million — 30 per cent complete;
*Rosemount Crescent — being undertaken at a cost of $33million — 45 per cent complete;
* Palmyra to Cornwall — being undertaken at a cost of $54.5 million — 85 per cent complete;
* King Street to Green Pond — being done at a cost of $147.7 million — 50 per cent complete and,
* Granville to Retirement road — being done at a cost of $164.5 million — 65 per cent complete.
Troupe in calling for the resumption of work on the Granville to Retirement road — which is located in his division — argued last Thursday that the unfinished project is having a negative impact on commerce in the area.
" There is a severe dust nuisance in Granville due to the unfinished work. Schools are being affected; a day care centre has had to be closed and a number of business places are badly affected," the veteran councillor charged.
Troupe's colleague Sylvan Reid (PNP) also complained bitterly about the terrible dust nuisance which he said is affecting residents in his division due to the stalled King Street to Green Pond project.
The situation is unbearable. Sooner or later we might have to stay in our homes because of the dust," said the first- time councillor, as he urged the local authority to use its influence to get the rehabilitation works restarted.
As part of the programme, the St James Parish Council contributed roughly $25 million, which represented 50 per cent of its Parochial Revenue Fund over a six month period.
At that time councillors, as well as residents who were experiencing poor road conditions expressed hope that the JPID initiative would bring some relief.
Councillor for the Anchovy Division Homer Davis (JLP), also expressed disgust at the long time it was taking to resume work on the projects in St James.
" We as a council have contributed huge sums to the programme and so we believe that we are being short changed," he emphasised.
He noted that the roads have been deterioration rapidly and will cost significantly more to finish because of the delay in completing the projects.
" The longer they wait to resume work on the projects the more it will cost the taxpayers of this country," he stressed. When the work came to a halt last year some of the projects were 65 per cent complete, but now those same roads are about 20 per cent of what they were at that time, and with the rainy season upon us now they are going to get even worse," the councillor explained.
He noted that none of the St James roads were included among the four JDIP projects that are scheduled to be restarted this month.
Meanwhile, several motorists have complained to the Observer West about the poor state of roads that were being done under the multi- billion dollar project.
" The road leading into Cornwall Courts is a national disgrace. It is riddled with pot holes and is a dust bowl," said Gary Brown, who said he is a taxi- operator.
According to Brown, a number of taxi operators have ceased to ply the once popular Cornwall Courts to downtown Montego Bay route due to the worsening road conditions.
But Manager of Communication and Customer Services at the NWA, Stephen Shaw told the Observer West yesterday that steps are being taken to recommence the majority of projects under JDIP in short order.
" A technical assessment has been done on all of the projects and a report is now being prepared," he said, adding that on completion it will be sent to the ministry of transport and works for action.