Shut it down!

News post August 18, 2016

 Falmouth mayor under fire over drain project, A trench with stagnant water at a section of Market Street in Falmouth.

FALMOUTH, Trelawny Custos of Trelawny, businessman Paul Muschett, has called for the suspension of work on the construction of the multi-million dollar streetscape project now underway along Market Street in the north western town of Falmouth, until worrying safety issues are resolved.

“Mr Mayor [Councillor Garth Wilkinson] let me just say this, the construction should be shut down immediately until the man [contractors] have remedial work done. You can’t have a piece of rope dividing pedestrians from the construction. Come on man!” the custos said. “If it was abroad that construction would have been shut down and people taken to court because it is a public safety hazard.” The outspoken Muschett was speaking at a meeting last week with Mayor of Falmouth Councillor Garth Wilkinson and members of the business community who are up in arms over the displacement and inconvenience being experienced in sections of Falmouth since the start of the project. President of the Trelawny Chamber of Commerce Delroy Christie questioned why the project was not halted when the contractors started to do both sides of the usually busy Market Street. “The programme should have started from the west then the east side. So from the first day they start digging on both sides you shut down the work. So why didn’t that happen?” asked the Chamber boss. But Mayor Wilkinson explained that for expediency, he insisted that the two sides be done simultaneously. “ I wanted and I never relented… I was the one who wanted it done with speed,” the Falmouth mayor conceded, adding that the time frame for the project, which commenced in May, is roughly six months. Wilkinson further illustrated that he took the lesson from the long delays encountered by the Falmouth Street leg of the project, in arriving at the decision. “Falmouth Street became a nightmare. For months and months you couldn’t drive on Falmouth Street because we basically locked off Falmouth Street. Falmouth Street was a disaster for close to nine months. We never want the same to happen to us on Market Street and one of the insistences is that the contractors do the street at the fastest time possible,” Wilkinson told the gathering. But, the explanation did nothing to appease the business interests in attendance at the meeting, who claimed they were not aware of the project until tractors starting excavating the sidewalks, leaving gaping “trenches” in front of their business establishments, denying customers easy access. “As we speak there is a 10-yard crater in front of my store and this has been the case since the 19th of June. When are we going to allow the customers to enter my store? I operate a pharmacy, which services sick people, some of whom are wheelchair bound. Since they have nowhere to access -bearing in mind, nobody to this date has indicated to us that work is going to be done in front of our store – we are going to be displaced… ,” businesswoman Sonia Shirley argued. Another businesswoman, Doreen HoSue, who operates on the same building, expressed similar sentiments. “I only came one day to see a tractor before my parkway there. Nobody has told us what is going on. There is no access, the steps were knocked down. Six weeks now and I have to park my car elsewhere; I have to take a taxi … nobody informed the business people that there would be construction of any sort there,” Hosue said. But, Wilkinson, who apologised for the inconvenience caused by the project, pointed out that during a public consultation, where most of the businesspeople were in attendance, the scope of the project was explained. “I must apologise as the chairman of the Trelawny Parish Council for the inconvenience that has been caused by the work that is presently being done. It was not easy for us to put this together the project that we have worked long and hard for,” the mayor of Falmouth said. The Tourism Enhancement Fund is financing the project with the Trelawny Parish Council, the Port Authority of Jamaica and the Urban Development Corporation, as the monitoring agencies.

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