SPUR TREE, Manchester — With the police remaining tight-lipped about its investigations into the death of Deputy Commissioner of Corrections Reverend Orville Moore, whose body and mangled vehicle were found over a precipice here last Thursday, concerns have resurfaced about the safety of the Spur Tree Hill main road.
Moore, the Department of Correctional Services' acting deputy director of rehabilitation and probation aftercare service, was last seen alive on Fairwell Avenue off Molynes Road in St Andrew on May 29.
Police confirmed that his body was found close to his vehicle. However, a senior police source told the Jamaica Observer on Monday that there are very "sensitive aspects" of the investigation as the probe continues to ascertain how Moore's vehicle and body landed in the ravine.
The Spur Tree main road links Mandeville and its environs to St Elizabeth and points west. Heavily laden, slow-moving trucks often hinder traffic on the steep, difficult hill, and there have been a number of fatal crashes involving trucks down the years.
Road safety experts say inexperienced drivers, overweight and defective vehicles are among the main causes for mishaps on the crash-prone road.
When contacted for an update on plans to address safety concerns, National Works Agency Communications Manager Stephen Shaw said improvements have been made to the Spur Tree Hill road over the years.
"It is as safe as we possibly can make it [with] the terrain out there. Things have been done over the years to improve the safety element along the road," Shaw said on Monday.
"For example, we have climbing lanes out there, signs have been erected, and so it is really from an engineering standpoint. I'm not sure if there are other things that could be done or it is that... it is the human factor that now contributes to the issue that we see out there," he said.
"Without a doubt, human factors have been impacting the space. We really have been trying to improve the situation but that is why it is called an accident — accidents do happen," added Shaw.
When asked if barriers will be installed on the road Shaw pointed out that plans for the highway network linking the south coast are still being considered.
"I don't know of that being contemplated at this time. What I know [of] has been a new road to extend the toll road out there. I know that at least a preliminary design has been done for that area in respect for the road leading to the south coast road heading towards Negril," said Shaw.
In March Prime Minister Andrew Holness, during his contribution to the 2023/24 Budget Debate, announced plans to extend the Southern Coastal Highway Improvement Project westwards to Hodges in St Elizabeth. This will follow the completion of the US$188-million May Pen to Williamsfield leg of Highway 2000 scheduled for August 2023.