MAY PEN, Clarendon – There is heightened concern within the Clarendon Municipal Corporation (CMC) that the parish’s crumbling infrastructure may be a threat to lives and property if repairs are not done before the hurricane season begins.
“Recently there was a breakaway in Suttons, and the residents are concerned about their safety. The Minor Bridge has also collapsed in Spalding, and the Southwood Bridge also collapsed in Frankfield some time ago and we are yet to see any correspondence or indication that [any display] of interest will be happening very soon,” Councillor Scean Barnswell (People’s National Party, Hayes Division) said at last Thursday’s sitting of the CMC.
“To top it off, we have been hearing that this will be an active season, and so far we have received some amount of unpredictable rainfall and we could have seen flooding taking place in some areas. Mr Chairman, with all that is happening I think the parish, dubbed a disaster parish some years ago,we should be getting some attention,” the councillor urged the CMC chairman and mayor of May Pen Winston Maragh.
Barnswell, who is also the CMC’s minority leader, contended that drains for which the National Works Agency (NWA) has responsibility remain clogged with debris and vegetation, with no timeline as to when they will be cleaned.
“We should prepare for and expect serious things to happen in this parish,” he warned.
The councillor also expressed concern that the local authority may have to fund repairs if there is major infrastructural damage. He referenced the local government ministry’s recent assertion that the Hanover Municipal Corporation should foot the bill to repair the Hillsbrook bridge after it collapsed in early April.
“I’m now wondering if it’s the same thing they are now saying to us in Clarendon, that the Minor Bridge and the one in Frankfield, since they as serve parochial roads, that it has no interest in getting those bridges repaired. I think we need to ask what is the plan to get these outstanding matters addressed,” Barnswell asserted.
In seeking to allay his fears, Mayor Maragh explained that the Southwood Bridge in Frankfield is on the books to be replaced, based on this year’s financial budget.
“The breakaway at Suttons, the NWA is actively putting the designs together; and for the Minor Bridge, we are working with the NWA and our ministry of local government to get that funding. We had also sent in a request to get some funding from the SGR [Special Grant for Repairs] fund to do some remedial work where that bridge is concerned,” Maragh assured.
Councillor Trevor Gordon (PNP, Spalding Division) suggested that the issues be dealt with in a speedy manner.
“Come July, August we will not have any bridge if the roadway leading to the bridge is not fixed, because it is getting worse. The MP says it’s the council’s responsibility and the SGR fund is an emergency fund. We don’t need to wait three, four months or we don’t need approval from the [local government] ministry because it’s our internal thing,” he told the meeting.
Maragh pledged to follow up on the issue with a view to having it solved in the shortest time possible.