Fri | Dec 6, 2019

Bowden Hill residents stranded; alternative route flooded

Published:Monday | November 18, 2019 | 12:28 AMLivern Barrett/Senior Staff Reporter
The main bridge connecting Bowden Hill and Airy Castle in west rural St Andrew, which has been damaged since February 2019.
The main bridge connecting Bowden Hill and Airy Castle in west rural St Andrew, which has been damaged since February 2019.

Weary residents of Bowden Hill in west rural St Andrew are facing more headaches after an alternative route, created after the collapse of the main bridge to their community in February, was flooded on the weekend.

The alternative route, which runs through the community of Boone Hall, was impassable up to late yesterday because of rising water levels in the Wag Water River where it crosses the road surface.

Mayor of Kingston Delroy Williams, during a visit to the area yesterday, blamed the rising water on the heavy rains in recent days and the overflowing of the Hermitage Dam.

“That is presenting a challenge to residents who use their motor vehicles to enter and leave the community. It’s a great challenge because that was the alternative route,” Williams said.

“It’s very difficult because we can’t find any other road for the residents to enter and leave the community. So we are praying and hoping that the water will subside over the next day or two and then we will do some restoration.”

Residents were forced to use the other route after the Golden Bridge, which connects Bowden Hill with other communities, collapsed on February 17.

SLOW PACE

Work started in June to replace the bridge, but residents yesterday complained about the slow pace at which it was progressing.

“We a go gi dem some more time fi do it, but you see if three months pass an nutten no happen, we a go tek action ‘cause this is slackness. A from February the bridge mash up,” one man fumed.

Residents who rely on public transportation, he said, have to walk miles to the bridge before they can get a taxi to go about their business. Those with cars, he added, park them near the entrance to the bridge and walk the rest of the way.

But the residents may not have to resort to protest action, as Williams disclosed that the work to replace the bridge could resume shortly.

In June, the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) signed a $33-million contract with Chin’s Construction to replace the bridge.

Williams explained that the work was delayed because the bolts to assemble the bridge were not in the island. “When the contract was procured, we were notified by the contractor that they had to get the bolts overseas,” Williams said.

”The time it has taken to replace the bridge is due primarily to the fact that the contractor had to wait until those bolts arrived in the island. We are told now that the bolts are here and that they will be cleared this week from Customs.”

The mayor said he is now expecting that work on the new bridge will begin in the next three weeks.

In the meantime, he said the KSAMC will continue to monitor the water levels at the alternative route.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com