Hold strain! - MP urges patience as some Gregory Park residents threaten protest over bad road
Almost daily, accidents, choking dust and constant flooding when it rains are some of the issues residents of Gregory Park, Portmore, St Catherine, are blaming on the deplorable condition of the main road in their community, and they are convinced that they will have to protest to get it fixed.
'A just dirt. We can't stomach it no more. If we even put clothes on the line a pure dirt, and I am saying to my neighbours, 'let us block the road for something to get done because if you no block it you nah find no justice'," one resident told The Sunday Gleaner last week.
But Member of Parliament (MP) for the area Alando Terrelonge says while he understands the concerns of the residents, there is no need for any drastic action as a plan is in place to fix the road.
"I also have a concern as it relates to the Gregory Park main road, and for that I have been speaking to the relevant minister. I have also been speaking to very senior management persons at the National Works Agency (NWA)," said Terrelonge.
"Just last year we got some funding secured, and you know of course it has to go to tender, so in that November-December period we would have received some funds, and I was told it went to tender and the tender process is just about complete now, so we are expecting roadworks to start very, very soon," added Terrelonge.
But while the MP urges patience, the residents say there have been frequent accidents on the road and it needs immediate repairs.
"The other night a bus driver was trying to avoid a pothole when the bus lick a car right deh so at the gate and the car end up lick into another car that was parked on the sidewalk," said one resident.
But Terrelonge says a short-term fix is not going to work.
"I spoke to the residents and I said to them, 'listen, I'm committed to having the roads fixed, but guess what, the patching not going to work. Every time you patch the road the rain falls, you can't get to complete the patchwork,' because of that we took the decision not to continue patching the road but to secure proper funding to do a complete rehabilitation of the roads.
"Of course, you know that it takes time to get funds approved. I have asked for $20 million to help to rehabilitate the road, of which $10 million has already been approved," added Terrelonge, as he said the work should begin in the next two weeks.
GREGORY PARK NEGLECTED
The residents are also upset that road rehabilitation work has been done on roads in the nearby Cedar Grove Estate while the Gregory Park main road remains neglected.
"The whole a the scheme (Cedar Grove Estate) road them a work on but them nah do nothing on the main road. This is a the major road, this them supposed to work on before them enter the scheme. Me no say them no supposed to fix the scheme road because the road them in a the scheme bad too, but this a the major road that vehicle use daily and a carry passenger and a swerve, swerve," said one resident.
However, Terrelonge, the first-time MP for St Catherine East Central, said a number of the roads in and around Gregory Park have been neglected for the past 36 years and they cannot all be fixed at once.
"Most of the communities, for example in Compound, which is the heart of Gregory Park, we are talking about footpaths like dirt tracks ... so they have been asking, for the last two years, to secure funding for them so we can give the community a proper facelift," said Terrelonge, as he added that at least 18 roads have been rehabilitated since he was elected.
"As the member of parliament I listened to the people, and based on what they said I liaise with the ministry, I liaise with NWA, and as such the roads were selected after a consultation process with the residents, the ministry and also the NWA," declared Terrelonge.
The NWA has reported that it cost $97.7 million to improve the roads in Cedar Grove Estate and work on the Gregory Park main road should begin as soon as "some in-house preliminary actions" are done.
"Roads are selected based on level of use, nature of area, amounts required for the work, among other things," said Stephen Shaw, manager of communication and customer services at NWA, in response to the criticisms from the residents of the decision to repair the roads in Cedar Grove Estate first.