Tue | Nov 20, 2018

Road work nightmare for Clarendon residents

Published:Friday | January 8, 2016 | 12:21 AMJovan Johnson
A project being undertaken to widen the main road between Soursop Turn and Chapelton in Clarendon has made it difficult for some residents to access their homes.
Bar owner Carmen Smith points to a trench between the roadway and her business, which, she said, is losing customers as a result of the slow pace of the roadworks.
Cassandra Morrison says her daughter has been hospitalised with bronchitis, which she suspects was caused by dust associated with the roadworks.
These houses are now perched dangerously close to the embankment as a result of realignment of the Chapelton to Soursop Turn road.

Fifty-four year-old, Clair Harris, is living dangerously in her New Longsville, Clarendon, house that sits precariously on the edge of a hill left bare following excavation work for a $1.3 billion road project now underway. 

Harris' house is among four dwellings that occupy the hillside to which access is now difficult as a result of excavation works in the area. A walkway which was carved into the soil by the residents in order to get to their homes has been fallen victim to the road construction activities.

Harris' worry is among the several issues raised by residents of the community benefiting from the rehabilitation of 10.5 kilometres of roadway from Soursop Turn to Chapetlton in the parish. 

She told The Gleaner that her family of  12, including her blind father, have to use the dangerous entrance to the house daily while 'praying' that things will change for the better at some point. 

"Mi fadda almost fall off and break him hand. Pure dust, no road, nothing and my father is blind," she said.

The National Works Agency, NWA, which is in charge of the project, admits that there may be some areas where retaining walls may need to be constructed in order to protect houses.  

"There may be one or two areas that we need to address but all of those will be dealt with in a reasonable time. There shouldn't be any issues really," the NWA's communication manager, Stephen Shaw, sought to assure, although it's still not clear whether Harris' house is among those to be addressed.

Metres down the road from Harris, neighbours 45-year-old Cassandra Morrison, and 41-year-old Andrew Smith, bemoaned the pace of the work project and the inconveniences they have been facing. 

Both pointed to a wall erected in front of their houses and noted an alleged promise, that a gate will be constructed to give them suitable access to their properties. 

Morrison told The Gleaner on Wednesday that her 19-year-old daughter was in hospital after being admitted on January 1 with a case of bronchitis, allegedly brought on by the dust associated with the roadwork. 

"I have been complaining about the dust. Mi caan afford fi a buy furniture polish all the while. Dem hardly a wet the road. Everybody have the complain. Di contractors don't deal wid us right.  Look from dem dig up di yard and all now dem build di step," she complained.

Bar owner, Carmen Smith, 42, says residents are being treated poorly, with little measures put in place to address the dust nuisance and reduce the inconveniences to businesses. 

To get to her bar, patrons must walk on a piece of board that functions as a bridge over a canal under construction.

"We are not comfortable with the walk way. People are afraid of using it. We thought they were gonna accommodate us more. We don't know when we are gonna get back the place as it was. It's bad for business," Smith said while also noting that students from the school opposite her bar are forced to used the roadside as the bus stop has been removed to accommodate the project. 

Shaw admits that the dust nuisance is to be expected but efforts have been made to minimise including the wetting of the roadway throughout the day. 

"You will not have a project executed such as that which we're doing and don't get a complain. But what we try to do is to have those issues significantly minimised. Some amount of paving should start early and complaints about the nuisance should be minimised," Shaw explained.