People paving own way

BY BRIAN BONITTO Associate Editor Auto and Entertainment bonittob@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, March 31, 2017

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AFTER years of appealing to relevant authorities to assist in fixing their roads, residents of Pleasant Valley community in Red Hills are taking matters into their own hands.


Yesterday they embarked on an ambitious project to pave the three-quarter-mile strip of roadway leading into that rural St Andrew community.


Businessman Junior Dennis, who is in charge of the project, said positive things can happen when decent people come together.


"Over the years, the road was so bad that people’s vehicles were damaged regularly... front end, back end, undercarriages – anything that went through would be damaged. The road was a mess. People tried using cement to patch sections, but that only lasted for a while," Dennis told Jamaica Observer’s Auto magazine yesterday.


Dennis said his family and the Pleasant Valley Citizens’ Association got together and decided to take on the "million-dollar" project.


"This is a team effort. This is first time anything like this has ever happened. It is raw community people coming together, and the strength of the Dennis family. We born and grow in the construction field... My brother owns Leading Edge Equipment and Trucking and another brother owns HAD Limited. So my family really pooled in and made a large difference, and with our strength and the community we made it possible. It wasn’t hard to get people on-board; once they see what was going on, they join in wid ease," he said.


When
Auto arrived, heavy-duty equipment, roller, and close to 20 workers were seen engaged in the project.


"We’re looking at roughly a three-quarter mile... A ton of barber green is for $13,000, and 30 ton is $390,000 and that barely can complete it. So, imagine then how much barber green we need. A drum of colas is $40,000, and we’re talking marl, tractor, roller and we’re talking about men. All them gentlemen have to be compensated. Where is that money coming from? Certainly not the Government," said Dennis.


Shawn Townsend, secretary of the citizens’ association, lauded the move.


"It’s an initiative we decided to take on as citizens of the community. We have never really had any proper representation in fixing the road or any initiative like this. We’ve tried several avenues, under different administrations, with no success. We tried to raise funds but that was not enough to do it satisfactorily... We tried cement, but not everybody agreed with that ... so we joined forces... The Dennises, they’re into construction. Several of the brothers are into construction and they gave us a helping hand. These are people that grew up in the community," said Townsend.


Billy Dixon, who has made a home in Pleasant Valley since the late 1970s, said they couldn’t sit and wait on the Government.


"It is good that we actually can do it. We can’t afford to wait," he said.


Member of Parliament for St Andrew North Western Derrick Smith commended the constituents for their efforts.


"I want to congratulate the residents of the community. They have shown leadership in trying to find a solution for their roads. It is a known truth that the Government cannot fix all the roads that needs to be fixed," said Smith.


According to the Goverment minister, Pleasant Valley representatives had reached out to him last year and sought assistance for the "overlaying" of the road surface.


"Their request was sent to the NWA (National Works Agency), and a week ago we identified $2 million to assist. A (NWA) representative, Mr Laws, was asked to visit the area and get an assessment. In between then and now, I understand, work has started; so it’s just how the system works... And again, I commend the residents, and I am appealing to all communities which can assist with road repairs to do so," Smith added.




  

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