Regional

'No self-respecting donkey will travel on that'

BY KIMONE FRANCIS
Observer staff reporter
francisk@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, May 15, 2017

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RESIDENTS in Epworth, St Ann say they are fed up with the inactions of their political representatives, who they described as mere visitors to the small community located on the outskirts of resort town Ocho Rios.The residents, who spoke to the Jamaica Observer North & East last Tuesday, said the poor condition of the main road leading to the community has severely affected their daily lives.

The community falls in the St Ann South Eastern constituency of People's National Party (PNP) Member of Parliament (MP) Lisa Hanna.

The issue was brought to the fore by an elder in the community, Marjorie Parkins, who spoke at a recent town hall meeting at Ocho Rios High School in the parish. The meeting, put on by the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, was attended by Prime Minister Andrew Holness and members of his Cabinet.

“Mr Prime Minister, no self-respecting donkey will travel on that road. Every time Mr Stephen Shaw of NWA (National Works Agency) gets on the radio I get on the telephone and he tells me the same thing. 'It's not an NWA road; it's the parish council,'” Parkins said, adding “It is the number 13 parochial road and it is an absolute disgrace”.

Holness, in his response, said “a schedule has been done of all the roads and their existing disrepairs” and a direction will be given to Shaw, the communications manager at NWA, to see where a partnership can be forged with the parish council to have the road repaired.

Livestock farmer Derrick Walker, who spoke to North & East at his home in the community, agreed with Parkins.

“I would endorse that about 10 times. I have been living here 30 years now and if you notice you will see seh a 4x4 vehicle me buy. Nothing else can manage this road. Mi wife have a likkle Suzuki Solio and we affi go try sell it because it can't handle this road. We need the road to fix now. When election time come dem walk come here come look vote but after that we don't exist,” he said.

Walker shared that he travels frequently because of his business but said it has become increasingly difficult to do so.

“Mi pay taxes so dem need fi fix the road. If mi can't go in and out of the community with ease of course it going affect my business. I am a frequent traveller; me travel almost every day. My wife works in St Mary so she affi travel daily. Nuh light nuh even deh here. Once upon a time we had one light post but dem vandalise it and take it weh,” he argued.

Another resident, Clarine Higgins, said it was costly to leave home for any reason at all. The woman said because of the road condition, taxi drivers have refused to travel to the community.

“If we go out we can't come in. We affi walk go out and more time we affi walk come in back day or night. If you want to reach somewhere by four o'clock you have to leave by 2:30 pm go over Beecher Town and get a ride fi go down. Now and then you might see a one or two taxi come over but dem scarce. More time we affi charter. You have one guy in the community weh nuh really run taxi but if you want fi go anywhere you have to pay him $500 or $1000 fi one way. It rough; It rough bad because the road is in a deplorable condition,” Higgins said.

The woman said like Parkins, she has heard repeatedly that repairing the road is not the responsibility of the NWA.

“Dem she a parish council road but we talk to dem till we tired. Mi can't tell how often mi see the councillor. When voting time everybody come through. See my father deh, ask him,” she said pointing in the man's direction.

Her father, Salamon, a centenarian in the community, said he has never seen the road in the state that it is currently, before.

“I remember in the days of Michael Manley when it come on to the area every street and every corner fix up. And up to before independence the roads were in very good conditions. Sometime they have the road headman come and him give out work. Now, we nuh have nuh road. We have bad representatives.

“I don't mean those who are in the House. The councillors dem bad. You can't blame the MP because if I am a councillor I must know how thing getting on in the area so I can carry the report to the MP. Our present councillor I don't know what him doing,” the man said.

Ian Bell of the PNP is the councillor for the area.

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