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VIDEO: Whitehouse residents protest after MP halts work on bridge

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

WESTMORELAND, Jamaica — Residents of Gordon District in Whitehouse, Westmoreland have vowed to continue blocking the roads until work resumes on a broken bridge in their community. Work began on May 30, to residents' delight, but was halted by member of parliament (MP) Daniel Lawrence a week later.

The MP, who was elected on a ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) ticket, told OBSERVER ONLINE that work had begun without his knowledge and he brought the project to a halt so that he could have oversight and ensure proper procedures are in place. He also complained that today's protest was politically motivated.

From shortly after 6:00 this morning, irate residents began using old cars, drums and other debris to block the roadway. They could be seen telling motorists to find other routes but allowed access to one individual in need of medical care.

“The MP come and see the bridge a work pan, him come and stop the workers from work,” said a furious Oliver 'Likkle Mouth' Smith, who said he was employed to work on the project. “After [the MP drove off], a police mi see come, suh we decide fi block the road.”

Others were concerned about the impact the faulty bridge is having on access to their community.

Samuel Anderson, who pointed to the possibility of a disaster if a fire truck were unable to gain access, also spoke of the potential danger to persons in need of medical care.

“If somebody sick over deh… ambulance cyaan get over deh,” he said, obviously frustrated.

According to councillor caretaker for the area, Michael Jackson, the former MP Luther Buchanan (PNP) had provided the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation with funds for the bridge to be repaired. It is that allocation that is now being used, he said.

However, Lawrence, the current MP, has taken issue with that approach. His view is that the local authorities should be liaising with him and not the councillor caretaker. Jackson is affiliated with the PNP. “It started out from the parish council because they should have never told him anything about it, and don't tell me,” said an obviously upset Lawrence who argued that the municipal corporation is merely the implementing agency.

And while the tussle continues over who has authority over the project, residents simply want the bridge fixed.

“Wi nah base pan no PNP nor labourite, we a base pan the safety,” said Sebrena Smith who said her children missed school on Monday because of the broken bridge. “Car can hardly drive pan it. No bike man cyaan guh cross it. One a my friend toe nearly bruk pan it!”

In response to the protest, mayor Bertel Moore will host a meeting tomorrow to address issues raised.

Kimberley Peddie