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Poll says businesses affected by roadworks should be compensated

Published:Tuesday | March 19, 2019 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju/Gleaner Writer
Construction work on Hagley Park Road.

The results of an RJRGLEANER-commissioned Don Anderson poll revealing that 72 per cent of Jamaicans believe that businesses should be compensated for losses incurred as a result of major road projects now under way in the Corporate Area, have found favour with president of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), Howard Mitchell.

At the same time, 18 per cent disagreed, while eight per cent were not sure. Two per cent said they were not aware of the issue.

“I think it’s a settled principle of law that if you damage my property or if you trespass on my property, you have to compensate me. Further, it is also a settled principle of law that if you interfere with my business or my trade, you have a duty to compensate me. So I don’t think there is any question of whether compensation should be made. It really comes down to ‘in what circumstances and for what exactly’?” he told The Gleaner.

Anderson interviewed 1,003 persons between February 15 and March 3.

Three major road rehabilitation projects are currently under way in the Corporate Area. The major works are taking place on Mandela Highway, Constant Spring Road and Hagley Park to Three Miles.

The survey also found that more than 57 per cent of Jamaicans were not pleased with the road projects, which have been blamed for the traffic gridlock that is now a feature of everyday life in the Corporate Area. Thirty-five per cent supported the decision, with six per cent not sure.

President of the Small Business Association of Jamaica, Hugh Johnson, was equally insistent on the need for compensation, pointing out that businesses that enjoyed as many as 1,000 interactions with customers per month before the roadworks started, had seen that number fall dramatically to 10 per month.

“Business has suffered severely because of the unplanned, unsystematic disruption of the city to levels that are unsustainable,” he shared. “So businesses should be compensated, and I say to the Government that if it is even to start by doing some advertisements for these enterprises to drive back customers to their businesses.”

59% backing

The poll, which has a margin of error of plus or minus five per cent, found that some 59 per cent of respondents supported the decision to have all the roadworks going at the same time. Some 30 per cent took issue with it, while nine per cent were unsure. On the question of whether the current road projects were properly planned/timed, 53 per cent said it was not, while 34 per cent supported it, while 11 per cent were not sure.

Commenting on this finding, Mitchell said: “I think most business people would be prepared to put up with a degree of inconvenience, but my knowledge in relation to the road construction is mostly related to Three Miles and what has happened there. It’s gone way past the issue of inconvenience. People’s businesses have been irreparably damaged. Further, the method in which the work has been carried out ... , just the complete indifference to facilitating the business people, would in my humble opinion lead to compound damages for compensation.”