Residents using ingenious ways to cross river after bridge collapsed two months agoWednesday, October 20, 2021
BY KASEY WILLIAMS
OXFORD, Manchester — Residents living near the Manchester/ Trelawny border on the Oxford to Troy main road are using ingenious but risky ways to commute following the collapse of a bridge two months ago.
Councillor Rohan Kennedy (People's National Party, Mile Gully Division) told the Jamaica Observer last Saturday that the residents are in a desperate situation.
He said the collapsed bridge has directly affected more than 2,000 people who have now been forced to use a long, alternative route though Christiana to get to Mandeville and other points.
“They have been trying some innovative ways over the past couple of weeks. They had [gone] ahead and erected a wooden bridge but, with the river in spate, it [was] actually moved. Now, recently, I saw where they are actually using rope from one end to the other to get over like livestock, feeding, and even people, which is not safe,” said Kennedy.
In a video that has gone viral on social media platform TikTok, a man is pulled by rope from one end of the collapsed bridge to the other side.
National Works Agency Communications Manager Stephen Shaw didn't give a timeline for a replacement bridge, but said technical issues were being addressed.
“We have completed the surveys and we are looking at preliminary design iterations that our senior engineers will decide on in a little while from now, so work is taking place technically,” said Shaw.
Kennedy said the situation was especially desperate in communities such as Cowick Park and Glassco “…where people live on the Manchester side and their businesses are on the Trelawny side”.
The border between the two parishes in that area is defined by Hector's River, previously spanned by the collapsed bridge.
Kennedy said he knew of a case “where a particular resident lives on the Manchester side and he has a block factory just on the border on the Trelawny side, so it is impeding a lot of them”.
Students in northern Manchester, northern St Elizabeth, and southern Trelawny will be badly affected when face-to-face classes resume.
Member of Parliament for Manchester North Western Mikael Phillips, who is also Opposition spokesman on transport and works, told the Observer that the collapsed bridge needs urgent attention.
“We are very concerned about the long delay in even a temporary fix for residents to cross, as they are putting themselves in danger. The Government has a responsibility to quickly do something as it will be a disaster if someone is hurt trying to cross,” said Phillips.
Kennedy stressed the importance of the bridge in moving goods and services.
“You have market people who traverse that route to go as far as Balaclava in St Elizabeth on a weekly basis. It is really impeding in terms of movement and it has been some time now since the bridge has been broken away,” said Kennedy.