‘Pain dem gi wi!’ - Carib Cement quarry works enrage St Thomas farmers
Farmers in Cambridge Hill, St Thomas, are reeling from the impact of a nearby quarry operation on their crops.
“Pain dem gi wi! That’s all wi get from dem,” lamented 60-year-old Norman Wilson.
The Cambridge Hill Quarry, licensed to mine shale, is operated by Caribbean Cement Company.
An estimated 40 trucks travel from the quarry to the company’s Rockfort plant in Kingston each day, some making multiple trips.
Wilson alleged that the boulders, stones, and sand packed alongside the road were the work of people contracted to the quarry.
He explained that his plot of banana and plantain, which is below the road’s horizon, has been affected time and again when it rains as a trench is created, causing debris to be deposited on his farm.
“A di road stuff dem yah, yuh know. A di water carry dem come dump inna di land,” a frustrated Wilson told The Gleaner.
“Di last time di wata buss di land and throw dung all a dem plantain and banana deh. Di pressure a di water when it rain. Yuh think a any river pan di road.”
Wilson said that he had informed the management of the quarry of the gravity of the problem and was offered about $20,000 in compensation, but he said the nuisance persists.
“My old man used to cultivate pan da land ya, yuh know. Same place weh dem draw the shale and a di same shale why him haffi mash up him farm,” he said.
A similar sentiment was echoed by Karl Crossdale, a 64-year-old farmer whose fence is covered with a load of sand and stone which has provided goats belonging to farmers in the community easy access to his farm.
“Right now, me have nearly half-acre worth a sorrel from di bottom up to the corner, and none of it is in there right now because of the goat. Di goat dem jus walk up pan here and jump over,” the farmer lamented.
Crossdale said that he was promised by a supervisor three weeks ago that the load would be removed, but that is yet to happen. On Monday, contact was made with Klao Bell-Lewis, Carib Cement’s manager of communications, community outreach, and media strategy. However, up to press time last night, no official response was forthcoming.
Wilson said that the trespass on his farm was made worse because culverts built to allow water run-off have been blocked by debris from the quarry. This was corroborated by a distressed Crossdale.
“The culvert dem block up, and instead of cleaning out the culvert area, dem clean the edge of the banking and send di water down inna di farm,” he said, standing atop the heap.