'We tired to live inna pigsty'
'Cross and angry' residents block St Catherine roadsWednesday, October 23, 2019
BY PENDA HONEYGHAN
RESIDENTS of at least two communities in St Catherine North Western yesterday mounted roadblocks to protest against poor road conditions.
The demonstration, which was organised by residents and members of the taxi association for Treadways and Bog Walk, sought to bring attention to the condition of the Treadways and York Street main roads. They said the protest has been “long in the making”.
“A from mi eye deh a mi knee dem a promise wi road, and every time them fix roads round wi. All we can hear is that we not on the map, that's why we affi come out this way — because today they have to know that we on the map.
“We exist, and we tired to live inna pigsty and gully coast. So we cross and angry; and while this may be a peaceful demonstration, it can become dangerous,” a York Street taxi operator who identified himself as Banton told the Jamaica Observer.
Another taxi driver, who did not wish to be named, said that in the past few months other communities have had their roads repaired, but that they are yet to be notified of any planned repairs in their communities.
“They chose the communities that they have strongholds in; they fixed all those communities. But we are now hearing that our roads are not fixed because our communities have mostly Labourites and Jehovah's Witnesses, which is not true. Even if that were so, we are taxpayers and should be treated equally,” the taxi driver, who operates on the Treadways route, reasoned.
Banton said that it is high time for concrete plans to begin, which should reflect the repairs that should have started in January, as allegedly promised by political representatives.
“It's almost December now and nothing at all has been done, and nobody has said anything. It cannot continue, and we will continue to block the roads until something happens. If needs be, we will block the toll roads too, because that is all the Government cares about. We will just have to hit them where it hurts — something affi happen fi wi today,” Banton charged.
When contacted, Councillor Sydney Rose (People's National Party, Treadways Division), acknowledged that the condition of the roads is very poor, but said that while road repairs for that area are not his responsibility, he has made the necessary representation and plans are under way to fix them.
“We are aware that the conditions of the road are very poor, and I continue to make representation to address this issue. However, I must clear up a common misconception that I believe is causing some misunderstanding — the Treadways and York Street main roads are not the responsibility of the St Catherine Municipal Corporation. This means that the road repairs are the responsibility of the National Works Agency; councillors are not given funds to do this,” Rose told the Observer.
He continued: “As it relates to roads in the community of Treadways, about four weeks ago [a representative] from NWA came and he measured the roads from Vanity Fair to Bermaddy, and took pictures of drains and other markers with a view of having that estimate relayed to Kingston to procure necessary finances to address to the road conditions,” Rose said.
He could not, however, provide a time frame in which the work would begin.
His update came as little comfort to taxi operators who said experience has taught that even with roads having been measured, it still did not guarantee the authorities followed through. This time, though, they say they will hold the political representatives to their word, even if it means demonstrating every week.
“All of them [Councillor Hugh] Graham (People's National Party, Lluidas Vale Division), Mr [Robert] Pickersgill (Member of Parliament for St Catherine North Western), [Councillor] Rose, [National] Water Commission, the National Works Agency — all of them...we have no confidence in what they say,” a frustrated Banton said.
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