Bypass path irks MoBay businesswoman
MONTEGO BAY, St James — Prominent Montego Bay businesswoman Angella Whitter is adamant that developers of the US$274-million perimeter road need to rethink the route which, she said, appears to take the road into her “front yard”.
“The highway must be built, I can’t stop that. I am not saying don’t build the highway but you are going to have to consider ways where it will impact me less. Where they want to put the highway cannot work there; it is coming too near to my house,” she told the Jamaica Observer on Monday.
Her house sits on almost 12 acres of land and is more than 100 years old. Whitter, who is in real estate, pointed to its historic importance.
“Lord Beaverbrook [who in the early 1900s was an influential figure in British media and politics] slept here in my room upstairs. The prime minister of the UK, Sir Winston Churchill, came here to this house. This is an iconic area and it should be treated as such,” she insisted.
Last week Prime Minister Andrew Holness indicated that excavation work for the long-awaited bypass is about 60 per cent complete. There is visible work being done in Fairfield, where Whitter’s house is located. Land has been cleared, and the path of the bypass can be clearly seen from the existing road.
From early morning the sound of heavy-duty equipment being used for the project can be heard. Work is being done by China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) under supervision of National Road Operating and Construction Company (NROCC).
According to Whitter, the route does not appear to be in line with previous discussions she had with NROCC. She said in those talks she had agreed to give up a portion of her land so the contractors could demolish a portion of an existing stone wall and rebuild it at the new boundary line.
The plans appear to have been changed, she said, and efforts to get a clearer picture have been unsuccessful.
“I have been speaking to NROCC and all they keep saying is that they’ve called the National Land Agency and will work something out. It’s over a month now and nobody don’t come back to me,” she said.
“The fact of the matter is that you haven’t shown me any drawings, you haven’t discussed anything with me, so what must I sign to give you? What must I do? You can’t do that, that’s not how things work,” she insisted.
Whitter is particularly concerned that, based on where the surveyor pegs have been planted, it appears that vehicles will be travelling mere metres from where she lays her head at nights. She is distraught at how this will impact her privacy and the noise she anticipates will come from on the highway.
Despite raising the matter in a recent Facebook post, Whitter conceded there is very little she can do if the Government decides to go the route of compulsory acquisition.
“The way how the commissioner of lands is, once they have served you notice [if] you don’t respond by a certain time then they just go ahead and compulsory — they don’t have to listen to you again,” she said.
“They can take [land] where it does not impact me with all of this noise but they are not talking to me; they are not listening. They don’t want to act, they don’t want to move. I don’t understand,” she bemoaned.