'We need it fixed'
Residents, motorists call for urgent repairs to Victoria main road in Clarendon North WesternWednesday, September 01, 2021
BY ROMARDO LYONS
Motorists and pedestrians say they fear for their lives when traversing the Gloucester section of Victoria main road in Thompson Pen, Clarendon.
Following heavy rains from Tropical Strom Ida last week, more than half of the road crumbled when the banking collapsed, leaving just a sliver for single-lane traffic.
The road was initially badly damaged when Tropical Storm Zeta dumped heavy rain on the island in October last year.
Oneil Mitchell, a resident of Thompson Pen, told the Jamaica Observer that the road is in need of urgent repair.
“When the rain fall hard, you can see water a gush out over the road. So, we a plead to the MP or whoever must deal with this. We need it fixed,” he said, adding that if the road is not repaired quickly many people would be marooned.
“If we ever get rain like what happened the other day everything a go gone. Right now, if you look down, everything tear weh gone and it is because of this road that drop off and wash go down. Everything tek time a go right down there,” he said pointing to a ravine.
In October 2020, MP for Clarendon North Western Phillip Henriques said the damage caused by heavy rains associated with Tropical Storm Zeta had caused extensive damage in the constituency and noted that the breakaway along Gloucester was probably the worst in the parish.
But it has since worsened, leaving the edge of the road ragged and resembling the edge of a cliff, causing fear among motorists.
“People in this area more interested in this road more than dem yard. This road is a main alternative route. This road carry you everywhere out of here. It carry you to Spaldings, May Pen, Christiana, Cave Valley, Ochi, MoBay, and nuff other place. Everybody don't have to use it, but for people in the area and those from Thompson Town, a this road we have to use. If a even fi go town, a here so people a drive,” said Mitchell.
“When the road did break off the first time this year after the bad rain, a guy further up gave people a little pass through. But no access not there anymore. The man block it off. It is the man property, so him block it off,” he added.
One taxi operator, who gave his name only as Wilson, told the Observer that he takes a chance daily to transport passengers over what is left of the road.
“This is really not safe. It is not safe fi a drive this route every day, but people have places fi go. It is a risk we a tek fi a drive over this road but we have to, because people have business. People nuh just siddung in Thompson Town every day. People in and out. And as a taxi driver, mi cyaan just get up and say mi nah drive that side. We in a pandemic and time hard. Mi affi do weh mi affi do,” he said.
“It is just a matter of time before the whole thing collapse. And weh we a go do? We just a hope that when that a happen, nobody nuh deh pon it 'cause that would be a sure death. So we woulda like if they do something for real this time. Last year, weh dem do neva mek no sense… not much was done,” Wilson added.
While assessing the damaged road last year, Henriques had said that the National Works Agency was working in the constituency and that private people had been contracted to “help move the blockages as quick as possible”.
Another Thompson Pen resident said businesses that normally use large trucks or other vehicles to transport goods are particularly affected.
“Big truck, everything can travel from this route. You have a lot of business places further up — hardware, wholesale, and couple shops. Everybody have to use this road to go up that side,” the man said.
Like the MP last year, he attributed the road damage to a lack of proper drainage in the hilly constituency.
“We need somewhere for water to run off under the road. We need a few, too, because the road cannot manage the pressure of the water when the rain really fall. We cannot have run-off and mudslide and everything coming down from up in the hills on the road. A that mash up the road,” he said.