Why the silence on St Thomas highway?
ROBERT AFFLICK (JP)
I voice my disgust with the current road situation in the parish of St Thomas.
The Morant Bay to Cedar Valley main road is now a total nightmare. Some motorists in St Thomas who traverse the Cedar Valley to Morant Bay main road have been forced to dispose of their cars and purchase motorcycles or used SUVs simply because they encounter a myriad of expensive mechanical challenges caused by the deplorable road conditions.
In the event of rain, some motorists have even resorted to parking their own cars at strategic locations and are taking public transportation to complete their journey because the road becomes a pigsty with mud and water. Motorists who use the roads are compelled to choose which of the 'pit holes' they prefer before descending into them, because there is no way to navigate around them.
Very little has been done to restore a bridge and a section of roadway near Serge Island, which was washed away in the Hurricane Emily flood rains of 2005. Since then, we have been using a detour road through Seprod's cattle pastures on the Serge Island Farms property.
The company to which I am employed acquired, in 2013, an ambulance as part of its occupational health and safety strategy. Shortly thereafter, the company was requested by the Princess Margaret Hospital to assist in transporting of a patient from the Seaforth Health Centre to the Princess Margaret Hospital, as the hospital's ambulances were out responding to other emergencies at the time.
Being a safety specialist and a certified first-aider, I was the first responder the hospital's request for ambulance service. The ambulance covered the eight-mile journey from Seaforth to the Princess Margaret Hospital in nine minutes flat. I was later commended for my quick response, and I was told it saved the patient's life. Fast-track to April 2017, that same eight-mile journey from Seaforth to the Princess Margaret Hospital is now taking that ambulance 35 minutes, even with the driver's best effort and with full compliance from other road users yielding right of way for the emergency vehicle.
What is happening with the proposed south-east highway from Harbour View to Port Antonio? On Monday, February 15, 2017, The Gleaner published an article captioned: 'Shaw, Henry in China for south coast project signing'. The following is an excerpt from the publication written by The Gleaner's McPherse Thompson: "Finance and Public Service Minister Audley Shaw and Transport and Works Minister Michael Henry are leading a team for a weeklong visit to China to advance economic cooperation between the Asian country and Jamaica. During the visit, they are expected to sign an agreement with China Exim Bank for the construction of the southeast coastal highway project, which is expected to cost approximately US$384 million, according to a release from the Ministry of Finance." Why is there such a dead silence on this project?
As a parish that generally supports the party which forms the Government, not to mention the 2016 general election which came down to the Western St Thomas seat eventually determining the final results at the polls, the whole parish is still forgotten. St Thomas has been ravaged of its natural resources such as water, sand and aggregate, while the parish itself remains completely rejected and forgotten. In order for more positive development to take place in this parish, we need to have good road, and we will keep the matter in the spotlight until this road situation is addressed.