Torture for road users in Santa Cruz (Photos: Gregory Bennett)
Even in the best of circumstances, the heavy showers of recent weeks — which turn roadways into virtual rivers — would have caused damage, scouring road surfaces.
However, a $38-million pipe laying project implemented last year by the National Water Commission (NWC) to improve the water supply for about 23,000 people means the roads through Santa Cruz are even worse than would otherwise have been the case. Sources say the pipe laying project was completed months ago and after various tests and retests, the NWC is now ready to “restore the road surfaces” to how they were before they were dug up for the pipe laying project. The trouble now is the continuous heavy rain. “You can’t do road surface work with all this rain,” one construction source told Jamaica Observer Central, “the rain would just wash away the material and make the situation worse. It would be a waste of money, material and time.” The National Works Agency’s Howard Hendriks agreed. “The rain is posing a big problem,” Hendriks said. All that is of little comfort to local politicians who are coming under intense pressure from their constituents. “Almost every day there are complaints of people losing tyres and other car damage,” said Member of Parliament for St Elizabeth North Eastern, Evon Redman who represents the opposition, People’s National Party. “The situation is getting worse and needs urgent attention,” Redman said. Ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) caretaker for the Santa Cruz Division, Chris Williams says the clean-up of main drains in and around the town should be treated as a priority in the push to correct the situation. Clearing the blockages would take much of the water off the roadways, reducing damage as well as chronic flooding during and after rain, Williams said. The latter is aspiring to replace ailing JLP councillor for the Santa Cruz Division, Stallyn Brown, as the ruling party’s candidate for parish council elections, which are expected in the coming months. Brown has been incapacitated since suffering a massive stroke in 2013. Redman noted that a rehabilitation project approved last year for the stretch of road between Gutters in the eastern part of the parish, through Santa Cruz to Lacovia further west should “to some extent” upgrade drains and ease the drainage problem in Santa Cruz . In addition to problems in Santa Cruz, Williams pointed to Burnt Savannah where he claimed a road patching programme started last year remains incomplete. The rains, he said, were further undermining those road surfaces and making an already bad situation much worse. “I am particularly worried about the safety of schoolchildren on that road,” said Williams.
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