THE National Works Agency (NWA) says it has been receiving reports from motorists in St Thomas about aggregates falling from trucks transporting these on sections of the Southern Coastal Highway Improvement Project (SCHIP), and has referred the matter to the police.
NWA acting manager for communications and customer services, Stacy-Ann Delevante, told JIS News that there has been dialogue with the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) Public Safety and Traffic Enforcement Branch (PSTEB) about police presence in the area.
“They [police] did agree that, where possible, they would lend their support. These truck operators have been breaching by overloading the vehicles and [having] the aggregate falling out [which is] dangerous to whoever is travelling behind them,” she said.
Delevante revealed that as recent as last week, she received a report from a motorist about her windscreen being shattered by a particle falling from a truck while a child was seated in the back of the motor car.
With this and other ordeals, Delevante is reiterating the NWA’s appeal for persons to utilise the corridors of the highway project as carefully and as responsibly as they can.
She pointed out that truck drivers ought not to overload their vehicles and should ensure their cargo is adequately covered.
Notably, the newest section of the St Thomas leg of the highway project, which was opened to motorists a few weeks ago, is an incline that crosses the Bull River.
Delavante pointed out that overloaded trucks on this incline “are not just dangerous for others, but also the truck drivers”.
Other motorists encountering these trucks are encouraged, where possible, to take evasive action such as allowing the units to proceed at a distance.
“We are still going to appeal for some assistance for police presence in the area and repeat calls for persons to stop overloading their vehicles,” she further restated, while emphasising that the matter is fundamentally a policing one.
“Once we lay down the road, the use of it becomes a police matter,” she underscored.
And as more sections of the highway project are opened, the NWA has appealed to motorists not to speed. Delavante said that maintaining a moderate speed is “even more important” when there is debris on the roadway.
“If there is any sort of debris on the road left by these truckers, it is certain to compromise safety. So it is absolutely important that under those circumstances, persons are driving at a moderate pace,” she said.
The multi-billion-dollar SCHIP represents the largest integrated infrastructure programme of works to be undertaken in Jamaica.
The project spans the parishes of St Andrew, St Thomas and Portland, and traverses the communities of Bull Bay, Mezgar Gardens, Albion, Yallahs, Morant Bay, Seaforth, Cedar Valley, Port Morant, Golden Grove, Hector’s River, Boston, and Port Antonio.