Fri | Mar 5, 2021

Savage Pen trauma drives dad to walk daughter to school

Published:Tuesday | January 19, 2021 | 12:13 AMJonielle Daley/Gleaner Writer
Richard Hall (foreground) and Daniel Clarke, both employees of GraceKennedy, pack stones into a truck to give them the ability to climb the hilly terrain of the Savage Pen road which many motorists find difficult to manoeuvre.
Richard Hall (foreground) and Daniel Clarke, both employees of GraceKennedy, pack stones into a truck to give them the ability to climb the hilly terrain of the Savage Pen road which many motorists find difficult to manoeuvre.

At 9 a.m. Monday, Richard Hall, who was supposed to be at work 30 minutes earlier, was still heaving rocks into the back of his lightweight truck to increase his chances of making it over the steep Savage Pen road.

He had just got back from a 3km trek from Industry Village to Papine to take his daughter to daycare. Ever since a near-death experience while coming down the Savage Pen road when it was initially cut, Hall decided not to ever let his daughter relive that trauma.

While the two-year-old insisted on walking down with the other passenger who was in the vehicle, Hall tried to manoeuvre the so-called death trap.

“My back wheel come off a di ground 18 inches. Mi left front wheel sink,” he told The Gleaner.

The steep, winding thoroughfare has been pitched by the Government as the only viable route to the breakaway-hit Gordon Town main road since November 2020.

Mavis Bank protest

Hall warned the authorities to consider the increased danger commuters face with the two-and-a-half-hour drive through Newcastle being the only safe alternative route. That call got support from a handful of placard-bearing protesters in Mavis Bank on Monday.

Works on the Savage Pen road were originally scheduled to be completed by Boxing Day, but nagging rains and the difficult terrain caused delays.

A new deadline of January 17 for the paving of the road has also been revised, adding to the annoyance of motorists.

Paving will continue Tuesday through to Friday. The works have been billed at $60 million.

“If they think it was urgent, dem woulda done within the three weeks’ time frame weh dem say,” said Hall.

The compacted marl road remains risky even for those who operate four-wheel-drive vehicles. That fact has not been denied by works authorities, who say commuters have options.

“We have said from day one that the Savage Pen road will only be appropriate for certain vehicles ... ,” Stephen Shaw, communications manager of the National Works Agency, said on Monday.

“But if it is not able to use Savage Pen, then there is always the option of going the longer route, which we accept and admit it is longer, but it is available,”

jonielle.daley@gleanerjm.com