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No road rehab for North West St Elizabeth - Hutchinson cries victimisation

Published:Wednesday | October 7, 2015 | 12:00 AMDaraine Luton

With limited fiscal space for capital spending this fiscal year, residents in North West St Elizabeth are being told not to expect any major roadworks in the constituency, despite the major thoroughfares being in deplorable condition.

Dr Omar Davies, the country's works minister, has indicated that it would take nearly $618 million to rehabilitate four major roads in the constituency, which is represented by J.C. Hutchinson.

The member of parliament (MP) had tabled questions for Davies in the House of Representatives seeking a timeline for repairing the roads.

But when Davies turned up with the answers on Tuesday, Hutchinson was not in the Chamber, as he, along with other members of the Opposition, had walked out to protest a prison-transfer deal being discussed by Jamaica and Britain.

Davies said the rehabilitation of the 13.5-kilometre Maggotty to Arcadia road, would cost $90 million, but it was not on the works programme for the National Works Agency (NWA) this fiscal year.

Davies said the Mocho to Arcadia section of the road is being repaired by the NWA and is being financed by the Tourism Enhancement Fund to the tune of $84 million.

That roadway leads to Accompong, St Elizabeth, but only the section of the road in Southern St James, an area represented by government minister Derrick Kellier, is being repaired.

"It is supposed to be assisting with the tourist attraction in Accompong," Hutchinson said, questioning the wisdom of not extending the repairs to his constituency, where the Maroon village is located.

Meanwhile, Davies said repairs to the YS to Ginger Hill to Pisgah to Springfield road, which is about 30 kilometres, is estimated to cost $165.2 million.

"The roads are in such a deplorable condition, especially the one from Pisgah to Springfield, that it is nearly impassable. It serves a farming area, and people are having great difficulty getting their produce out," Hutchinson said.

"It is stifling agricultural production," said Hutchinson, adding that he was being sabotaged as the lone opposition MP in St Elizabeth.

Davies said the Middle Quarters to New Market road, which is estimated to cost $241.7 million for rehabilitation, is being earmarked for patching at a cost of $15.5 million.

He said, too, that the Mulgrave to Red Gate road, which Hutchinson said was impassable, will require $105.4 million for rehabilitation.

"I have got no assistance whatsoever under the PNP (People's National Party) Government from 1997," Hutchinson said, charging that roads in other constituencies in St Elizabeth are being repaired and those in North West St Elizabeth are being ignored.