Fri | Nov 22, 2019

Bridge breathes new life into Chesterfield

Published:Thursday | October 17, 2019 | 7:20 AMGareth Davis Sr/Gleaner Writer
Elaine Edwards stands on the newly opened Chesterfield bridge yesterday.

CASTLETON, St Mary: 

The erection of a new bridge in Castleton has resurrected villages that were hit by urban sprawl as residents, weary of being marooned for days, had migrated to other communities, residents told The Gleaner yesterday. 

Attendees at yesterday’s opening of the Chesterfield bridge erupted in joy at the fulfilment of a by-election promise by Prime  Minster Andrew Holness in 2017 before his Jamaica Labour Party swept to victory in South East St Mary. 

Elaine Edwards, a resident of Castleton, said that the conditions had become unbearable.

“Now that we have got our new bridge, several families who once occupied property here in Chesterfield are starting to return and are now making preparation to commence with construction. Chesterfield is a quiet and peaceful community, and we are forever grateful for this major piece of infrastructure,” Edwards said.

“I am so overjoyed that we now have our bridge, which will allow us to enter or leave the Chesterfield community even when it rains,” she added.

Decades of suffering

According to Edwards, the extreme conditions dated back to the 1940s and were an inconvenience suffered by generations of residents.

“There were days when we had to literally strip off our clothes and walk through the rushing water of the river either to get home or to go out to do business. The lives of the elderly, students, and even the indigent were at risk. There were days when we were marooned due to heavy rains, and we simple could not cross the river.”

Other residents, including Downie White and Keneisha Bowen, shared similar sentiments, adding that it was the first time that a political figure had honoured the promise of delivering a bridge. They also praised the efforts of South East Member of Parliament Norman Dunn.
 

Holness said that he was duty-bound to fulfil his pledge.

“I didn’t come here to Chesterfield for an election gimmick. I made a commitment that I knew I could fulfil. It is also important for the people  of Chesterfield to know that,” said the prime minister, of whom photos and videos went viral two years ago as he gingerly made his way across a river barefooted in a bid to talk with prospective voters. 

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