The Parish of St. James is fuming, that so soon after hundreds of millions of dollars had been spent rehabilitating some important roads under the Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme (JDIP), the thoroughfares are falling apart.
Sitting in as Chairman of the St. James Parish Council’s regular monthly meeting on Thursday, September 11, Deputy Mayor of Montego Bay Councillor Michael Troupe declared, “It’s a national disgrace!”
Councillors bemoaned that roads that had been worked on, had become riddled with potholes and in some instances, break-aways following recent rainfall. Saltspring Road to Cornwall Court, Johns Hall Road, Chambers Drive in Granville, Cornwall to Palmyra and Paisley roads were highlighted among the worst affected.
In Johns Hall, JDIP built two new bridges and created a new and improved road to replace that section of the road leading from the Hurlock junction to the town square, which had posed a danger to life and property for years. The $446 million contract on this project was awarded to China Harbour and subcontracted to Y.P Seaton & Associates.
Major excavation of a mountain was done to construct the new roadways and less than six months after completion of this infrastructure improvement, Councillor for the Johns Hall Division, Stein Graham is lamenting that “the road at Johns Hall is still giving problem for the hillside is still coming down, even when the rain don’t fall and even as we speak now, there’s a landslide there for more than three weeks on the new road.”
He reported that “a motor vehicle turned over there two weeks ago, because of the same debris on the road, so we need to take that up in action.”
Council Secretary/Manager Gerard Lee said on August 15, he wrote to the National Works Agency pointing out that “the roads were deteriorating at an advanced rate.”
The letter noted, “... the rehabilitation work that was recently done on the roads in the Johns Hall area, there were major potholes to be seen where that was just repaired. The Council is concerned about the quality of the material used, if it’s in accordance with standards, since that road was done less than six months ago.”
He said the Council was requesting “that a tour be conducted with engineers from the National Works Agency and the Superintendent of Road and Works, since it was also noted that there were some more defects that were unacceptable after such short a period.”
5.4 km of road received attention. However, it has been falling apart in sections and with every bout of rainfall the problem worsens.
Councillor Sylvan Reid is very perturbed that a similar situation exists with three sections in particular, that have been dug up by heavy rainfall. He has difficulty understanding how it is that so soon after $176 million was spent rehabilitating that road, it has been falling apart. He is even more upset that after major flooding in the area took the lives of two children over two months ago, there was a tour and an announcement by Minister of State in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, Richard Azan of an emergency $22 million allocation to effect repairs, yet to date nothing has been done.
“I don’t know how we refer to emergency and two month going into three months later, it is still the same. And not just that it’s dug up, but there are areas on the road, Capital Heights in particular where it is very dangerous there now, because the road break away and a big hole is there that is heading down into the gully so if a car goes over there, that’s problem.”
He wanted a letter sent to the minister reminding him of the promise and pointing out that fixing the road “was still emergency.”
The contract price on the 1.36 km Palmyra road was $67.8 million and the Councillor, Jason Cummings says it too is falling apart and in need of attention.
Troupe related, “I’m having the same problem in the Granville area” and he argued that a lot of money has been spent and “the money is going down the drain.”
Rehabilitation of the 7.4 km roadway from Granville to Retirement under a $215.8 million JDIP contract was never completed. In addition to a large section of roadway in the Granville Square not being paved, several potholes have broken out along the thoroughfare.