Sun | Sep 20, 2020

Willowdene still yearns for better roads

Published:Thursday | August 6, 2020 | 12:27 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
A pedal cyclist rides through a flooded roadway in Willowdene Estates, St Catherine, yesterday, where residents are calling on the authorities to address the poor road conditions.
A pedal cyclist rides through a flooded roadway in Willowdene Estates, St Catherine, yesterday, where residents are calling on the authorities to address the poor road conditions.

Residents of Willowdene Estates in Spanish Town, St Catherine, are expressing disappointment that their cries for better road conditions have seemingly fallen on deaf ears even as their discomfort intensifies and repair bills for pothole damage to vehicles continue to climb.

Yesterday, they complained to The Gleaner that despite a protest a little over a year ago to bring attention to their plight, no serious action has been taken by the authorities, and the road conditions have deteriorated further.

In dry times, they have to battle a dust nuisance, and when it rains, traversing the flooded roads is a challenge.

One person praying earnestly for the repairs is Keisha West, who bemoaned the lack of sidewalks to safely and comfortable move about the community during wet weather.

“When rain fall, a pon di banking you affi go, and you will slide off,” she told The Gleaner. “I am here for six years now, and from ever since, once we get heavy rain, we are in trouble. I have a waterboot, and if I don’t walk wid it, I have to wait fi a car fi carry me ‘cross the water.”

Other women from neighbouring communities, who traverse the area often, said that it can be daunting when they have to take children to the clinic.

“We woulda love fi di road fix because we walk here fi go to the clinic with our babies. When di rain fall, it terrible. We affi walk in a di water. If not, we affi walk close up to the people dem yard. It better di road fix because it stay real bad. Mi woulda glad,” one said.

COSTLY REPAIRS

The poor road surface is also a bother to motorists and cyclists, leaving them with costly repairs.

“From mi know miself, a suh dem road here stay. It is a bad feeling. Sometimes it cost me bicycle tyre and all dem sumn deh. See mi have a spokes weh bend up sake a di pothole,” pedal cyclist Christopher Bacchas said. “When di rain fall, it terrible! We affi walk pon di people dem lawn because nowhere nuh deh deh fi walk.”

Wayne Russell said that he and his father had to fork out more than $30,000 to repair the front end of their minibus recently.

“Inna di scheme mash right up. All bike man mi see burst tyre. People a bawl,” Russell said.

“Mi car want some parts, and mi know seh a di road cause it,” a taxi driver weighed in.

Sean-Tay Williams told The Gleaner that sometimes the residents try to fill in the potholes themselves to improve the driving surface, but their fixes usually only last a short while.

St Catherine South Central Member of Parliament Andrew Wheatley told The Gleaner yesterday that he has been rehabilitating dozens of roads in the constituency, but the need is greater than the resources.

“I have met with them (Willowdene residents), and I told them I don’t have the funds. I will do them one at a time once the funds become available,” he said. “We are looking at between $400 million to $500 million to fix that community. You cannot just fix one road. You have to do a complete rehabilitation of infrastructure in that community.”

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com