Wed | Dec 6, 2023

Yallahs residents want local contractors removed from roadwork project

Published:Tuesday | July 4, 2023 | 1:08 AMSashana Small/Staff Reporter
The ongoing roadwork in St Thomas.
The ongoing roadwork in St Thomas.
The ongoing roadwork in St Thomas.
The ongoing roadwork in St Thomas.

Residents of Lightview in Yallahs, St Thomas want local contractors working on the Southern Coastal Highway Improvement Project (SCHIP) to be removed and full control be given to the China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC).

The residents are accusing the local contractors of poor project management, which they said has prolonged the roadwork in their communities and is causing major inconveniences for them.

Their frustration echoes similar criticisms levelled at the local contractors working on the Portland leg of the SCHIP by Everald Warmington, minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation with responsibility for works, during a recent visit.

“I must say upfront that I am not pleased with the performance of our local contractors. The problems that we have on that highway ... the problems are caused by our local contractors who are not fulfilling their responsibility,” Warmington had said.


Bobby Brown, a 57-year-old resident of Lightview, told The Gleaner that the lack of supervision for the workers employed by local contractors is the main issue.

“When you look pon di local part, flagwoman a chat to her friend, di man a siddung a build a spliff. When you go pon di Chinese side, yuh nuh see dat. Yuh wi see 20 man pon di local and five man pon di Chiney and look how di work a gwaan,” he said.

Arguing that the Chinese have a stronger work ethic, Brown is convinced that they would get the job done more efficiently and claims that better progress is made on the areas they are working on.

“The Chinese dig down di hill, it was mountain and dem dig it down and give wi road and all dem (local contractors) haffi fi do is change the pipe, scrape the road and fix it, and dem tek so long?

“The Government fi tek di contract from dem and run dem weh. If you tek di money and nah do di work, so who haffi go pay fi it? And mi and you haffi pay fi it enuh,” he said.


In November last year, Warmington announced that CHEC had implemented a system to receive weekly milestone-based reports from the subcontractors on the project.

But, when he was contacted by The Gleaner to provide an update on this, the phone went dead shortly after the reporter was identified. Subsequently, calls went unanswered.

Meanwhile, another resident, who described the impact of the roadwork on the community as “miserable”, shared that they often have to manoeuvre holes left open in the road, as well as deal with the constant dust nuisance.

“I don’t think dem (local contractors) really respect people. Dem nuh respect nobody, school pickney a come from road, dem haffi go through muddy water and all kinda tings,” he said.

Expressing the view that he is eagerly looking forward to the end of the project, the resident, who requested anonymity, also blamed lack of supervision for the protracted time the work is taking.

“Dem nuh have no supervision,” he contended. “We as residents recognise all di supervivors weh deh pon di work and dem just pass by.”

But Wayne Ferguson, a 53-year-old resident of the parish, insists that the local contractors do not have sufficient equipment to carry out the work effectively.

“Di Jamaican contractors nuh have di tools. When you have di tool fi do di work, ya go get through wid di work easier and better. Dem nuh have di efficient material fi do dem work,” he said.

At the same time, while Kevin Williams, who operates a restaurant in the area, does not have an issue with the pace of the work, he, too, believes that the local contractors’ lack of equipment is hindering their progress.

“Dem nah go really cya work like di Chinese dem because true di Chinese dem have more equipment more dan dem, and di Chinese dem work, but a nuh every black man weh yuh see really work,” he said.