Bliggen, community members rally to make bridge for Salt Spring


Bliggen, community members rally to make bridge for Salt Spring

Thursday, February 20, 2020

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SALT SPRING, Hanover — Santoy Hanover resident Howard Bliggen is fond of helping others.

So, it wasn't difficult for him to say 'yes' when the opportunity came for him to assist with the construction of a concrete bridge in the nearby community of Salt Spring.

For years, a footbridge called 'Over the River' has been the only means of access to the community where roughly 50 people reside.

The narrowest and fragility of the structure, however, have rendered it impassable for motor vehicles.

And this has resulted in hefty costs to residents who need to transport building materials and other goods across the bridge.

Additionally, residents who own motor vehicles cannot drive them home. Instead, the units are left overnight in an open lot on one side of the main road, several meters from their homes.

In recent times there have been reports of several car break-ins, resulting in residents renewing calls for the construction of a bridge.

Councillor for the Green Island Division, Marvel Sewell, responded positively to their appeal recently, and allocated funds from his Parochial Revenue Fund (PRF) to erect a new facility.

But, according to the councillor, he was given an estimate for $2.5 million by a contractor for the project.

Not able to foot that bill, Sewell appealed to area residents to assist with the labour cost for the construction of the structure.

The community responded favourably.

Now, Sewell said, the project is costing a little over a million dollars because residents have been giving their labour free of cost.

“When I asked a contractor to do a quotation on it, it was for [$]2.5 million to do it, and I am getting it done now for less than half of that, because I am getting some help from the labour force. So, it is just the materials that I have to purchase,” a seemingly relieved Sewell told the Jamaica Observer West.

Bliggen, a highly skilled carpenter, welder and steel worker, realising the shortfall in the councillor's budget, was eager to volunteer his labour.

“The money for the job is not sufficient enough to start and finish it. So, I decided to assist because I like to see good things done. So, I just come to assist to make sure it goes through,” said Bliggen, who travels a little over a mile daily to assist with the building of the bridge.

“I just feel good to know that I am able to assist. Councillor Sewell asked for my assistance. So, I try my best to assist in whatever way I can. So, I feel good to assist in any way I can. I always try to give a helping hand.”

Eighty-year-old Sherewite Waite, who has been living in the community all his life, is elated that a new bridge is being constructed.

He said many years ago residents used pieces of wood and bamboo “to make a bridge across the 10 feet deep gutter.”

White added that a small concrete footbridge was built years later by a citizen.

The bridge, now under construction, is expected to be completed within the next three weeks, and will allow motor vehicles to access the Salt Spring community.

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