MALDON, St James — Shocked by the state of the Maldon Road in south St James, Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie has expressed concern about the psychological impact this may be having on those who traverse what is now — in long stretches — a pathway of loose stones, shrouded on both sides by heavy shrubbery.
“You know, I drove on the roads, especially the ones that the minister and the councillor asked me to look at, and I must say how depressing it is for persons to be using the roads,” McKenzie remarked.
He was speaking with journalists on Wednesday during a tour of several communities in southern St James. He was joined on the tour by Member of Parliament (MP) for St James Southern Homer Davis and councillor for the Maroon Town Division Everest Coke.
In Maldon he toured a six-to-eight kilometre stretch of road which he said has suffered from years of neglect. He promised that an effort would be made to make things better for commuters.
“We’re not going to be able to physically deal with all the roads at the same time, but we are committing a significant amount of funding from the ministry through the equalisation fund,” McKenzie stated.
The Shaw Castle road that links the Maroon Town and Flagstaff communities will also come in for special attention as well, according to the minister.
“I’ve given instructions to the councillor to work with the superintendent [of roads and works] and to work with a technical officer at the Ministry of Local Government to ensure that they do try to access the emergency funding, especially for the breakaway that we stopped to look at. That is a dangerous bit of road that needs urgent attention,” said McKenzie.
He noted that repair work is important because the area holds a special place in Jamaica’s history.
“This area was an area where the Maroons stood their ground and fought for the liberty and the freedom of Jamaicans, and I believe that, as a Government, our commitment is to ensure that we have decent roads. We are working with the Member of Parliament and with the councillor to ensure that, that is done,” said McKenzie.
While he was unable to provide cost estimates and time frames for the work to be carried out, MP Davis welcomed the plans that the minister outlined.
“This couldn’t have happened in the last three years. It was a continuous erosion that has taken place over the years. But we are here now and we have the minister here and I’m sure that he will assist us in correcting some of these challenges our citizens are facing,” he remarked.
“The legacy that I’ve gotten is not one that anyone should be very proud of, but I’m hoping to rewrite some of those legacies,” Davis added, a thinly veiled swipe at the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP), which held the seat for about 30 years before he bested Derrick Kellier in 2020.
Minister McKenzie also used the opportunity to take a jab at the PNP.
“People will say you have been there for seven years, but Rome was not built in a day. The number of roads that we have repaired and we have built since we became Government. If we had a programme like that previously that we could follow on, our road conditions would be different,” he stated.
“Not making an excuse, but we are committed. We are going to find funds, especially the first road that we have travelled on,” he added.