Sat | Jun 25, 2022

Protesters rip into Lawrence, Wright

Published:Tuesday | May 17, 2022 | 12:09 AMHopeton Bucknor/Gleaner Writer
Placard-bearing residents protest deplorable road conditions in the Westmoreland Central and Eastern constituencies on Monday.
Placard-bearing residents protest deplorable road conditions in the Westmoreland Central and Eastern constituencies on Monday.
Daniel Lawrence
Daniel Lawrence
George Wright
George Wright

Under-fire lawmakers Daniel Lawrence and George Wright have appealed for patience from enraged constituents who mounted barricades that left commuters stranded in Westmoreland Central and Eastern.

Scores of angry residents blocked at least 10 miles of roadway linking Frame, Cairn Curran, Kippin, Grotto, Highgate, Caledonia, and Darliston with boulders, tree trunks, furniture, motor vehicles, and water tanks.

With commuters stranded, the protesters armed themselves with placards chanting for urgent repairs to ramshackle roads.

A resident who gave her name as Janet told The Gleaner that the road conditions had become so grave that pregnant women have given birth in motor vehicles while being transported to hospital.

“We can’t take it no longer. ... A nuff house burn down because the fire truck can’t reach we quickly enough, and when the goat thief dem come thief we goat dem, we can’t drive fast enough fi catch dem because the road too bad,” the disgruntled woman said on Monday.

As the police sought to clear barricades late into the evening, residents vowed to return to press home their disgust.

Daniel Lawrence, who represents Westmoreland Eastern, said that the early beginnings of the protest were genuine but he suggested that sinister motives from his political rivals were geared towards undermining his work in the constituency.

“It started out as taxi men blocking the road, but it was also orchestrated otherwise, and I understand the situation with the road, because the road really needs urgent repairs, but this road has been in this state from 1995,” said Lawrence, hinting at blame for People’s National Party lawmakers who represented the constituency for decades before his 2020 electoral upset.

Lawrence said that works are at the procurement stage and that representatives are waiting on that process to run its course.

Referencing the need for transparency and scrutiny from the Integrity Commission, Lawrence said that “everything has to be dotted and all the Ts crossed”.

However, he promised that patching would be done in the interim.

Westmoreland Central MP George Wright, an independent, said that an estimate was done by the National Works Agency but urged restraint, saying the contract was yet to go to tender.

Abigail Malcolm, People’s National Party councillor for the Cornwall Mountain division, and Jerome Bacchas, colleague councillor for Darliston, both voiced concern over the deplorable road conditions.

Malcolm said having learnt of the roadblocks, she spent much of Monday assisting children to school and assuring protesters that better would come.