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Unrelenting protests over bad roads in St Thomas

Observer staff reporter

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

SEVERAL protests which began on Monday in St Thomas continued into yesterday as angry residents again blocked roads in the parish, demanding that their political representatives be removed from office in light of poor infrastructure.

Residents in Lloyds Pen also blasted police officers who cleared debris from the road and maintained a strong presence, telling them to leave because parish-wide protests were warranted.

“We having a problem right through — left, right and centre — in our community. Right across Western St Thomas we have no roads, sometimes lack of water and all these things. Our representative is not concerned,” Ferres Dailey, whom residents described as a community elder, told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

Dailey said since James Robertson has been elected as Member of Parliament for St Thomas Western, he has not returned to speak with them.

“What we need is either James go or him do what him have to do for the people of Western St Thomas. The people need road; the people need light and water. So we need James to come to the community, sit down with the people and let the people know what he is doing.

“The people have reached the stage where enough is enough... It's not going to stop; it going [to] continue until we get them to come and tell the people what they are for,” Dailey insisted.

Residents, who bore placards demanding 'better roads', told the Observer that whenever it rains, they have to pay men to help them navigate floodwaters.

They also said that this has affected several businesses in the area.

Over in St Thomas Eastern, four people were yesterday rushed to hospital after a tree, which was partially cut by residents, later fell on the motor car in which they were travelling along the Arcadia main road shortly after 10:00 am. They were later released from hospital. The crushed vehicle was later seen being transported towards Kingston.

Residents also called for the removal of Dr Fenton Ferguson, citing neglect of the parish for which he has been elected six times as Member of Parliament for one of two constituencies.

Several community members shied away from commenting, but one woman insisted that the planned protests were not about politics.

Both Robertson and Ferguson told the Observer that they understand the protests.

However, Robertson said he cannot support debris being lit or any sort of violence. He said he is confident that the plans communicated by National Works Agency and Prime Minister Andrew Holness regarding the south coast highway, for which construction is to begin next year, will transform the parish.

At the same time, Ferguson said he understands, especially since residents have heard about plans for the rehabilitation of the Junction main road in St Mary, and the main road in Barbican square, St Andrew.

Several schools in the parish were closed for a second day.