NWA facing heat over defective street lights
MONTEGO BAY, St James — The National Works Agency (NWA) is again under pressure as motorists in this western parish are demanding the repair of three defective traffic lights before the start of the new school year in early September.
Checks made by the Jamaica Observer have indicated that the traffic lights in Westgate, Harbour Street, and Megre Bay Road, and the Church Street and Strand Street intersections are out of service.
According to taxi operator Patrick Robinson, the defective traffic lights in Westgate have been “an absolute nightmare” since the start of the year. The lights, which are located at a T-junction, have been out of service for approximately eight months.
Robinson told the Sunday Observer that he has seen a few minor crashes along that thoroughfare since there is not a traffic light to monitor the flow of vehicles.
“It causes a bunch of wrecks where if people nuh know wah dem a do, dem can get in trouble. Because quite a number of mornings, especially on school mornings, you will see some fender bender and that also contributes to a backup in traffic,” Robinson said.
The taxi driver added, “I saw a little car and a truck one morning, and a taxi and a private vehicle another morning, so it is just crazy out there. The lack of traffic lights makes people do crazy things when they get to that area. The taxi drivers and the regular public are concerned.”
Expressing a similar sentiment was another taxi driver Delroy Rowe, who plies the Sign Irwin to downtown Montego Bay route.
“The stop light has been out for way too long and the people dem fraid fi drive past Westgate because of it. I know nuff woman wah say dem drive on the highway because dem timid when dem reach out by Westgate, and that is not right,” Rowe told the Sunday Observer.
A female motorist, who only gave her name as Sherry, corroborated the taxi driver’s story. She explained that she is always experiencing a state of panic once approaching a defective traffic light.
The woman said she worries about the durability of her Honda Fit motorcar whenever she has to head in that direction.
“Honestly, I have been so concerned about that stop light for the last few months. I have seen a team from the NWA there on multiple occasions, but I have never heard them come out to say what is going on with it. A major concern has been the upcoming school year, but we just have to wait and see what happens.
When the Sunday Observer questioned deputy mayor of Montego Bay, Councillor Richard Vernon on the status of the defective traffic lights, he stated that officials at the St James Municipal Corporation (SJMC) were yet to receive an official word from the works agency.
“I haven’t received a report from the National Works Agency. According to the minister, if we have an issue locally we are to write to Kingston, which is ridiculous. We try to work with the National Works Agency and of course, the other entities in our space as best as possible,” Vernon said.
Vernon pointed out that the local authority hosts meetings regularly with the appropriate agencies. However, he said that that has not translated into solutions.
“I will tell you that we have what we call a Local Area Traffic Committee and on that committee, we have the National Works Agency, the superintendent of roads and works from the municipal corporation, the Transport Authority, and the Jamaica Constabulary Force. And at that meeting, they discuss the details of traffic management in and around Montego Bay,” Vernon explained.
“We are talking about signage, traffic lights…[and] everything that relates to traffic management in the space. The discussions are had at the meetings, but coming out of that meeting we need the actions and if there are issues relating to traffic lights we expect them to be fixed. When we call the National Works Agency and we speak to them regarding these traffic lights, sometimes you hear that there are some issues with the Jamaica Public Service,” the deputy mayor said.
At the same time, Vernon bemoaned that more communication was needed to properly address the issues concerning the traffic lights.
“Nobody is calling the National Works Agency to find out what is wrong with the traffic lights. They are going to call the mayor and the councillor. So we really need to sit down at the national level to rethink and re-evaluate how we manage city spaces,” said Vernon.
Community relations officer at the NWA’s Western Office Janel Ricketts said that the technical team is working to address the concerns regarding these traffic lights.
“They have been affected by defective hardware. These parts are now being sourced to effect the necessary repairs. I am unable to give a time though,” Ricketts told the Sunday Observer about the traffic lights at the Harbour Street and Megre Bay Road and the Church Street and Strand Street intersections.
As for the traffic lights at the T-junction in Westgate, Ricketts said motorists should experience some relief in less than two months.
“The intersection needs to be rewired. The team is working on having that completed within the next six weeks or so,” Ricketts told the Sunday Observer.