Wed | Sep 27, 2023

Opposition criticises Portland roadworks

It was the worst experience that I have ever been through on a road, Golding says

Published:Monday | May 2, 2022 | 12:06 AMGareth Davis Sr/Gleaner Writer
A section of the roadway in east Portland, near Clear Spring, which is undergoing major construction.
A section of the roadway in east Portland, near Clear Spring, which is undergoing major construction.
Opposition Leader Mark Golding.
Opposition Leader Mark Golding.

Describing the conditions on the main thoroughfare leading from Folly Road in Port Antonio to Manchioneal in east Portland as the worst road that he has ever driven on, Opposition Leader Mark Golding is appealing for more to be done to improve the conditions for the commuting public.

Golding, who undertook a two-day visit to the constituency of Eastern Portland on Thursday and Friday, was guest at the launch of the technology zone at Manchioneal Primary and Infant school, where 10 laptop computers were handed over to that institution by Leaders of The New Millennium.

The comments by Golding, who is also leader of the People’s National Party (PNP), comes in the wake of ongoing roadworks on the eastern leg of the Southern Coastal Highway from St Thomas to Portland, which continues to cause undue hardships for operators of public transportation and other motorists.

“I drove through the Junction (via St Mary) into Port Antonio, and I simply cannot believe that the road is in such a terrible state. I know it is development, which is well needed, but I am sure that the work could have been undertaken in stages, which would ease the plight of motorists and commuters,” said Golding.

“From we left Port Antonio, it was the worst experience that I have ever been through on a road. The road is in a most unbelievably deplorable condition ... and it’s not just for a short stretch. I mean all the way along till we got to here, which is what … about 40 kilometres? The wear and tear on the vehicles that have to traverse that route is quite shocking. And quite frankly, the work itself doesn’t seem to be happening at any pace. There were large stretches where nothing was going on.”

According to Golding, who launched a scathing attack on the contractors of the Portland leg of the highway project, the way in which the roadway is being reconstructed could have been done in a more organised manner, so as to create some level of ease on the part of users of that thoroughfare, especially those transporting students to Happy Grove High School.

He argued that because of the approach taken by the road contractors to dig up the entire roadway, operators of public transport no longer operate their buses or taxis throughout the entire day, as their vehicles continue to suffer significant damage, leaving hundreds of students stranded.

“I have never seen anything like this ... it is absolutely terrible! The entire road has been basically destroyed. So instead of working on sections, so that the rest of the road is not in a terrible condition, they have basically destroyed the entire stretch of road. From a planning prospective, it does seem to be extremely chaotic,” Golding further said.

Meanwhile, Opposition Spokesperson on Education Angela Brown Burke also weighed in on the matter and commented that it was a timely decision on the part of Minister of Education Fayval Williams to make available five buses to ease the plight faced by students attending Happy Grove, some of whom have been left stranded late at nights, as operators of public transport have reduced the number of trips to the eastern end of the parish due to the state of the main thoroughfare.

Brown Burke, however, argued that consideration will have to be given to the teachers and the commuting public, who are also affected by the bad road conditions.

“It will provide temporary relief for students and it is laudable. However, consideration must be given for the teachers and other persons,” she said.