‘We have endured too much’ - Compensation issues, deadline concerns among bumps in road for legacy projects
While the National Works Agency (NWA) is maintaining that work on four legacy road projects in the Corporate Area will be completed by the end of summer, business operators and motorists affected by the rehabilitation exercise are anxious to see them wrapped up although they doubt an August deadline is realistic.
On Monday and Wednesday of this week, The Gleaner toured the projects – Mandela Highway, Hagley Park Road/Three Miles, Constant Spring Road, and Barbican Road – and while the Mandela Highway project seems to be on track for end of summer, clouds of doubt hang over the other three.
“End of which summer? Next year?” taxi operator Joel Campbell asked The Gleaner. “A summer now, enuh, and taxi man a bawl too long. Passengers a bawl ‘bout the dust and dem nuh sure where fi dem taxi park up.”
Campbell pointed to the chaos he witnesses on a daily basis in Three Miles, where the US$56-million Hagley Park Road Improvement Project is under way.
“Work a gwan wid tractor and other heavy-duty equipment and motorists still a drive through. It nuh tek a genius to know the work a go slow up. Then how dem plan fi done by end of summer?” he continued.
“Gi yuh joke. Bus all a pass and backhoe lick out him glass. Dem shoulda even do one side first, open it up, and work the next side,” he suggested.
The nearby Hunts Bay police confirmed that there have been reports of minor collisions on the road as the work progresses.
On Monday, our news team observed motorists fork out cash to pay workmen to allow them easier passage through the chaotic maze in Three Miles. However, yesterday, when our news team returned to the location, steps had been taken to restrict vehicular traffic at the section where workmen were collecting for passage days before.
However, the police say they have no reports of extortion.
Business operators in the area have also said that the delay in completing the project – which missed its March deadline – has been a major inconvenience.
“We were told that work would have been completed by the end of the first quarter. Now, it (deadline) is the end of summer, which I find hard to believe,” a business operator, who requested anonymity, commented.
Another business operator expressed concern that the Government has still not settled on compensation deals with landowners who have had some of their properties gobbled up by the road-widening exercise.
“I haven’t settled anything with the Government yet,” the business operator said, adding that he did not wish to speak much on the matter.
However, he added: “I hope that this will be completed by end of summer. We have endured too much.”
On Tuesday, NWA CEO E.G. Hunter was still singing his summer song despite the concerns as he said that for the most part, the underground work – which is the most tedious aspect – had been completed on all the projects.
“Long before! Absolutely!” Hunter said, when asked if the projects would be completed ahead of the new school year, which starts in September.
While he did not explain the reason for the missed deadlines, Hunter sought to tout the benefits the projects will bring, citing ease of movement and improved infrastructure, which should last for about 40 years.
The Jamaica Chamber of Commerce has called on the Government to provide adequate compensation to businesses that lost revenue due to the ongoing roadworks in the Corporate Area, and they hope a meeting today with the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association and the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica will chart the way forward in this discourse.
These legacy projects are being undertaken through the Government’s Major Infrastructure Development Programme and are being financed through a concessionary loan from the Government of the People’s Republic of China.