MPs blame red tape for slow repairs to roads

CLIFTON, Hanover — Flayed by residents who are upset over the poor state of roads, two Members of Parliament in Hanover are pointing the finger at red tape within the Government as one of the factors that make it appear as if they are not responding to the needs of their constituents. Both were elected on a Jamaica Labour Party ticket.

Member of Parliament for Hanover Western, Tamika Davis is being lambasted for shoddy roads in areas including Clifton and Mt Piece. Concerned resident Dawnette Kerr, who reached out to the Jamaica Observer, is among those who say they have had enough.

“The road is in a deplorable state with numerous, gigantic potholes that resemble ‘wells’. The kerb and channels are hidden behind the accumulation of dirt, aggregate and debris so there is no proper channel for the flow of water whenever it rains. Residents are constantly complaining about the shaking and jerking they endure each time they travel on the horrible road,” she stated.

“This is too much. It can no longer be called a road,” added Kerr.

Industry Cove resident and tour bus operator Carlton Samuels was even more scathing in his comments.

“I just can’t understand what the NWA [National Works Agency] is doing in Hanover and why the roads can’t be fixed. Months upon months upon months. The holes them a mash-up people vehicle,” he complained.

According to Samuels, a little over a month ago a rented car in which tourists were being transported fell into a pothole on the Mosquito Cove Main Road section of the Northern Coastal Highway. That section of the road is currently being repaired by the NWA.

Samuels said he took a photo of the car in the pothole and delivered it to the NWA’s parish office. However, he believes that, ultimately, MP Davis should be held responsible.

“I would say to the Member of Parliament that the buck stops with her and she can’t have an agency in the parish making things worse for her — she must summon them to a meeting. And if they can’t step up and deal with the thing then she should seek to get another person to help the organisation there,” insisted Samuels.

In response to the complaints about the general state of roads in her constituency, Davis told the Observer that she has been trying to get the issues addressed.

She said the NWA did an assessment during the last week of September and roads slated for rehabilitation include Clifton and Mt Piece, the Chelsea Bridge to Cacoon, Kew Top to Askenish, Middlesex to Mt Carmel, and the Richmond area. She said the NWA has started working on sections of road between Great River to Lucea, Lucea to Green Island,and Green Island to Glasgow.

Davis argued that projects are sometimes delayed because of circumstances beyond her control.

“At one point I was told that the contract had been awarded but the contractor’s insurance was not up to date and so they could not begin work until that had been sorted out. Notwithstanding that, I am still of the view that more could be done faster,” said Davis.

“There must be a way that we can get things done faster while observing all the rules, protocols and contractual requirements. I just think that when we have an urgent situation, there must be some way that it can be resolved quicker than this two months’ turnaround. It would be hypocritical of me to say that I don’t know that steps are being taken, but surely it can be done at a quicker pace,” she reasoned.

Her colleague in Hanover Eastern, Dave Brown, who is also getting his fair share of complaints from residents, also expressed concern about red tape.

“In the past the NWA used to use what was called a Force Account where the NWA could push the work without the work going to procurement. Government stop that in 2020 so everything has to go to tender no matter how much it is — and you know the tender process is lengthy. So, that is really the problem that we are facing right now,” he explained.

“As we speak, a portion of the road has been tendered and has been procured and I have about six to seven roads that are going to be patched,” the MP informed.

Among the roads to be fixed in his constituency are Jericho to Cascade, Flint River to Pondside, and Hopewell to Haughton Grove — with the Bamboo Drive section being given priority — and from Success onwards.

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