Zion residents call for better road conditions

TRELAWNY, Jamaica — When Tova Hamilton ended the People National Party (PNP’s) 31-years governance in the Trelawny Northern constituency in the last election, residents of Zion, Martha Brae thought their community would finally get some attention.

Residents say this is not the case as the road (Carib/Holland Road), leading into their community is in a deplorable condition and they’ve not seen nor heard from their Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) MP.

“PNP deh ya and the road tan bad, now JLP deh ya and it still tan bad,” said Stephanie Witter, a resident. “Three schools round ya and we still can’t get a proper road. It’s like we jump out of fire and jump in a hot oil. Tova (Hamilton) tell we seh life go better and all now better can’t come.”

The community is home to two prominent high schools and a preparatory school. Several residents believe that is reason enough for the road to be a priority.

“Every day something about [William] Knibb on TV. A Usain Bolt high school. A big traditional school in Jamaica and the road look like river bed,” said a resident who identified herself as ‘Kay’. She described herself as a ‘die-hard PNP’ supporter and said she voted for JLP’s Hamilton solely because her campaign advocated for road rehabilitation.

In response, the first-time MP said the road is on her list of priorities.

“The main road, Falmouth to Springvale, is my responsibility, so I am in the process of repairing the section of the Martha Brae Road that meets the Carib road first,” Hamilton said. “I will [then] move to that secondary road, which [has] been the responsibility of the long-standing councillor.”

The road, however, is part of both the Falmouth Division and the Martha Brae Division managed by PNP councillors Garth Wilkinson and Philip Service, respectively.

Service said he intends to do some minor road work on a section of the road in the coming weeks. In response to pleas from the residents.

“I am aware that the road has deteriorated. Like everything else, roads are not able to last forever. This road is in an area that has a lot of swamps, and these roads are going to have potholes every now and then,” he said.

Both councillors collaborated in 2020 to fix sections of the road, but Wilkinson believes it was money poorly spent. He insisted the severity of the potholes could have been less if his suggestion at the time was taken.

“I contributed over one million to the road work and I think it was money poorly spent,” he said. “I told them, ‘don’t dig it up, don’t do anything, just asphalt it because the surface is already solid’.”

Service said he made the final decision explaining that asphalt is more expensive and would have resulted in less work being done.

A section of the road was cleared and rolled with dirt/mall and then another section was rehabilitated using asphalt concrete, according to the roads and works department at the Trelawny Municipal Corporation.

Residents say that decision resulted in a road surface that facilitates dust nuisance.

“Dust a kill we,” Witter said. “Every car pass and little breeze blow we affi cover we face. It nuh matta if a Tova, JLP or PNP do it, we just need the road fix.”

Another resident, Jermaine Green, said the dust causes him discomfort as it triggers his sinus.

Hamilton said she hopes to start the rehabilitation exercise within this financial year and Wilkinson said as a last resort, he submitted an appeal to the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), a fund designed to assist with community-based projects.

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