Residents of several communities in Clarendon Northern are calling for the deplorable roads in the constituency to be repaired.
Residents’ frustration boiled over on Monday, sparking protests in places including James Hill, Cave Valley, Bog Hole, Carty Hill and Trout Hall.
Tracey-Ann Mahoney, director of James Hill Primary, said the gleaner that recent heavy rains that hit the island have further eroded the road surface in many areas, causing more frustration for commuters.
“My daily commute now takes an extra 15-20 minutes each way, due to deteriorating road conditions. This has a huge impact on vehicle wear and tear as well as time spent commuting, which could be spent in productive or family service,” she noted.
Mahoney pointed out that his students are also being negatively affected as some taxi operators have taken their services off the route. Only a few loyal operators now ply the road, she said.
“Students have to go out early in the morning if they want to squeeze into one of the few available taxis, in order to get to school before classes start each day,” she said. the gleaner.
Shelly-Ann Grant Thompson, who teaches at James Hill Primary, said the current road condition is “a disgrace”, lamenting that what would normally be a 10-minute drive from Cave Valley to James Hill Primary is now closer to 30 minutes.
“It’s tiring to cross daily to get to school, even difficult to drive. I understand the frustration of everyday road users, and it’s sad it had to come to this to get MPs’ attention, but better roads are needed,” she said, adding that a a number of teachers from Claude McKay High School parked their vehicles and had to take taxis because they feared damaging their own cars.
“These roadblocks have a big impact on teaching and learning, but I understand the frustration because I’m frustrated too,” she joked.
“I sometimes arrive at school late because taxis have to take their time driving on the road,” said a third-grade student.
Keneisha Blair, who recently returned to the island to visit loved ones in the James Hill community, said she was embarrassed as the community she bragged about to her husband was in a sorry state.
“I went to Jamaica on September 22 and we didn’t know where to turn on the side of the road. We had to take the bushes to avoid falling into a pothole. This is the first road I’ve ever seen with a pothole inside a pothole,” she shared with the gleaner.
Describing the situation, she said the potholes appeared to have layers.
Overgrown bushes along the causeway added to the concern of residents, who said the long stretch is reminiscent of the popular Holland Bamboo thoroughfare in St Elizabeth.
“So if you have a pickney coming from school, he has nothing to walk on. They walk down the road, and if someone drags them into the bush, you can’t even realize if you pass them how thick and tall the grass is,” Blair said.
Delroy Dawson, councilor for the Aenon Town division – which includes Carty Hill, James Hill and Bog Hole – admitted the roads needed urgent attention.
As for those that fall under the municipal corporation, Dawson said his hands are tied, as he only receives funds to repair roads per year at a cap of $3 million each.
“It can only be about 250 meters of road, and if it rains, then the budget is exceeded. We have serious financial problems to get things done. We do not receive council funding. Right now we are asking for more money to get things done,” he explained.
Commenting on additional concerns about the lack of streetlights, the councilor said he was waiting for the Jamaica Public Service Company to remedy the problem.
Efforts of the gleaner to get a comment from Clarendon Northern MP Dwight Sibbles proved useless as messages sent to his phone went unanswered and phone calls were not returned.