St Thomas residents still unhappy with roadwork plan
Following public presentations made by the National Works Agency on the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Report last week, residents of St Thomas say that they are still uncomfortable and unsatisfied with the report which outlines plans to widen the main road as a part of the proposed Southern Coastal Highway Improvement Project.
The meetings were held in Albion in Western St Thomas and Bull Bay of East Rural St Andrew, where the EIA report for Section 1A of the SCHIP which will run from Harbour View to the Yallahs Bridge was presented respectively.
However, similar concerns were raised in both areas.
One resident in Albion, who lives close to the main road, said she is worried about how the Government will handle the businesses of relocation and settlements. The St Thomas resident also requested a timeline as to when those who will be affected will be notified.
In his response, NWA's Communication Manager Stephen Shaw said it is too early to say which properties will be needed as the project is still in its early stages. He, however, gave the assurance that persons who are likely to be affected will be notified in due time. In the meantime, Shaw encouraged residents to settle all matters concerning their land ownership.
Issues of the impact of the project on private properties were again raised in Bull Bay. Resident Peter Espeut, who described the report as unsatisfactory, weighed in on the matter.
"I don't think the document is complete because it lacks information," charged Espeut. "I would have liked to see the document give the alignment of the road, as we're being told, from Harbour View to the Albion Crossing, but unfortunately it doesn't."
He continued: "There are only one and two places where we can see which properties are going to be affected and which shops are going to have to go. The document is deficient because the people will take your advice and read it and will not find the answers to the question they want to ask. Will their land be impacted by this road?"
Espeut, who is also an environmentalist, noted that although the environmental aspect of the report may be acceptable, the EIA Report is lacking where the social impact on the residents is concerned.
Another local, Paul Hibbert, who serves as president of the Bull Bay Football Club, shared similar sentiments as he told Rural Xpress that the presentation was too vague, as it failed to address some of the issues affecting the community.
During the presentation of the report, it was mentioned that although though the flood waters will not affect the new road, the football field may become inundated when it rains.
"Everything seems to be revolving around the roads. I know the roads will be good, but how does it affect the lives of the communities that it passes through? We know the roads won't flood but the areas around it might," commented Hibbert. "A highway or any form of new road should uplift the lives of the areas it passes through. I have not heard that from the NWA. All I heard was that the road will be well built and some other technical terms," Hibbert complained.