Give us back our bridge
Stakeholders in Hanover have expressed concern that the farming community of Georgia in the parish is still suffering due to the demolition of the Dundee Bridge, which connects the interior of the parish's two constituencies, more than five years ago.
During the recent regular monthly meeting of the Hanover Parish Council mayor of Lucea, Wynter McIntosh, and Councillor Lloyd Hill of the Sandy Bay Division said they were dismayed that the bridge, which was partially destroyed by Hurricane Gilbert in 1988, had been allowed to fall into disrepair despite repeated requests to the National Works Agency (NWA) to have it repaired.
flogging a dead horse
"I am of the view that we are flogging a dead horse," Clare said. "The Dundee bridge is out of commission since 1988. Every effort was made at that time to reinstate the bridge ... and for some reason every effort that we made from then, we are just going over and over and over without it being resolved. It is very important that we look on the situation and write to the highest level, because we are just getting the run around - no action. We need to get to the bottom of this, otherwise the Dundee bridge is going to be here (in the parish council's minutes), forever."
He was supported by McIntosh, who said the residents, especially the farmers, had suffered for far too long.
"If it means that we have to write to the minister (of Transport) himself, indicating to him the way the constituents have suffered because of that bridge, we might have to do so, and copy whatever relevant officer within the ministry," the mayor said.
Hill said he was fed up with the scant regard which has been paid to his pleas over many years for the restoration of the bridge. He said some residents have said the metal structures which held up the bridge were stolen by scrap metal thieves, posing as NWA engineers.
"We need to take a different approach; it's like we are asking a favour. This is a NWA road, a public road, so, you are right Mr Chairman, that it needs to be brought to the attention of the Minister".
When Western Focus visited the site of the bridge at Georgia following the meeting, only pieces of the abutment walls were seen on either side of the Lucea East River. One resident, 67-year-old farmer, Lloyd Webster, who was spotted walking on the main road sought to explain how the events leading to the disappearance of the bridge unfolded.
"The flood shake the bridge an burst the abutment wall for the bridge. After that we had a very heavy shower of rain. There was a guango tree inside on the bank whose root had grown in the abutment wall and after that the river come down heavy and the earth get soak and the guango tree root out and then the bridge collapse," Webster explained.
"After the bridge collapse, we could still use it. We couldn't drive on it, but we could walk on it, and it was very useful for everybody. But then, one morning I came down here and see some man with some plant (generators) say dem deh cut up di bridge and dem deh go move di bridge, because dem going put another bridge there," he added.
Webster, who has lived in Georgia since 1976, said the removal of the metal parts that made up the bridge transpired more than five years ago, and that at the time an explanation was sought from the councillors and Member of Parliament for Eastern Hanover at the time, but that they could not furnish a response.
"They removed the bridge and from ever since we have to take off shoes to cross the river and when the river come down (is in spate) we have to come off further up the road and walk around - roughly about two miles and at the same time when you are walking, you still walking in water because when it come down the place flood with water," he said.
"A lot of farming is done in this area. Right now you have a whole heap a land just lay down not doing anything, because the people find it difficult when dem farm fi get out them produce, because you have to pick what you have, come here, take off your shoes go back down there, and maybe bathe and move again. So, everytime you come out there, you have to carry a rag a slippers or something to dry off your foot and put on your shoes," he said.
The Dundee Bridge was very important in the heydays of farming in Hanover, as it was the key link between Eastern and Western Hanover and also connected more than 20 farming districts in western Hanover to the central Hanover main road. Webster said if the bridge were to be fixed, he along with his fellow community members, would in return, fix the partially dilapidated roadway leading to the community themselves.
"I think it is very necessary because right now you have a lot of people who want to come in the community to live but they won't because of the bridge. Right now if we get the bridge we wouldn't even pressure government fi road. If wi get the bridge, wi fix di road," he said.