FALMOUTH, Trelawny — An almost $14-million investment that will address the slippery mess inside Falmouth Transport Centre is just one of the improvements planned for the facility.
Users of the facility had vociferously expressed their disgust at the state of the grounds after a recent heavy downpour, and the Trelawny Municipal Corporation (TMC) subsequently identified the more than $13.5 million required to pave the grounds.
"We had dialogue with Minister of Local Government and Community Development Desmond McKenzie and he has given us the go-ahead for the paving to be done. We will be doing the procurement for the transportation area where the buses park. We do agree there are some puddles there but we ask [users] to bear with us. We will get that through as soon as we pass the procurement stage and the contract has been awarded so that the work will be done…That park has great potential and we want to make sure that the cabbies and buses keep off the street and make Tharpe Street their home," mayor of Falmouth, Councillor C Junior Gager, told reporters recently.
He apologised to those who have been inconvenienced by the less than ideal conditions there and promised that every effort would be made to get the work done as soon as possible under existing guidelines. He shied away from giving a firm target date for completion but said he hoped it would be before Yuletide.
"A normal [procurement] process takes anywhere from three to four weeks so we are looking at four weeks, the most, and it has started already. We are expecting that before Christmas all of this will be through…We want to make sure because it's a good revenue earner; we are spending back what we earn on the facility. I don't want to give any timelines but we are working on it as fast as possible. We want our people to be happy, we want them to remain in the bus park," the mayor said.
He said grading work has already started on the road that leads from Tharpe Street into the facility but work had to be halted because of the rainy weather.
"As soon as the rain holds up we will be first paving the entrance," Gager said.
Other work planned for the transportation centre includes adding more bus sheds that will provide shelter for users. There are currently two sheds available for use, one smaller than the other.
"A design and the costing are being prepared for a shed as we speak. As soon as those are available we will see from whatever source we can find the money so that that is done. That shed that we are building will be able to cover about three bus bays so when you come into the park you are under them; so if it rains or shines, you are sheltered," the mayor revealed.
He also anticipates that Montego Bay Metro bus service, which serves western parishes, will also provide additional shelter.
"They have been using the park and we are having a discussion with them. They should be coming up here and they too want to put in some sheds. So in a matter of time we will be able to have enough sheds," Gager promised.
He assured those using the facility that the improvements will continue.
"We just want to say to the people it is work in progress. It is not work that is going to stop. We are finding the money," the mayor said.
The opening and use of Falmouth's first transportation centre is part of a wider thrust to bring order to the parish of Trelawny. It was touted as a way to help reduce traffic congestion in the capital by moving motorists and potential passengers off the streets and into the assigned area. It was also expected to help in the fight to curb public urination on the streets of the town, now that there are public sanitary facilities inside. Gager said it has been effective on both counts.
"The first we are having a bus park in Falmouth and the condition of the road is much better. If you walk you don't have that crowding and can reach where you want to go. You don't have the smell of urination; it is dying away. We are getting rid of all of those things so we ask you just work with us. In just a matter of weeks you will be okay. We have no control over the rain but I want to again say thanks to Minister McKenzie for answering our call," he said.