Montague urges patience amid road protests in Western St Mary
Firefighters and other persons at one of the major road blocks in Western St Mary on Monday.
The St Mary police are trying to get heavy-duty equipment to clear blockages that were created by the cutting down of trees in sections of Gayle and surrounding areas of the parish as some taxi operators, joined by some residents, protested over bad road conditions on Monday.
Scores of residents, including students in Gayle, were left stranded as some roadways to access the town were blocked by trees, which limited vehicular access.
The affected roadways included the Lambkin Hill and Labyrinth main roads.
Additionally, taxi operators who ply the Gayle to Ocho Rios route, have also withdrawn their services.
Taxis parked in Gayle as part of protests over poor road conditions in sections of Western St Mary.
The taxi operators have threatened to continue their protest over the state of the roads for the rest of the week if measures are not taken to address the poor conditions.
“Di road dem bad and noting nah do to dem. Every week we a spend money a fix vehicle, year in, year out, and noting nah do. From Guy’s Hill to Gayle, Gayle to Ochi (Ocho Rios), Gayle to Dressikie, from Gayle to Rio Nuevo, Gayle to every weh is a disgrace… We need di road dem fi fix now, and wi ago keep block it, because politicians nuh care ‘bout wi existence here so,” said a taxi operator who plies the Gayle to Ocho Rios route.
Though impacted by the road blocks on Monday morning, a resident of Gayle, who asked not to be identified, said he agreed with the protest action that was taken.
“Mi nah go make it a work today enuh, and although mi nah get no pay for the day, we have to make our issues heard. The road fi all go Ocho Rios in a state, and all the road to go Dressikie from Gayle need some serious attention. It might affect people earning dem bread, but we have to do it,” the male resident argued.
Meanwhile, Member of Parliament for Western St Mary, Robert Montague, in a post made on his Facebook page, expressed “surprise” at news of the road blocks, stating that the transport operators “at no time” complain about the road conditions.
“It is with great surprise to hear of the road blocks in sections of my constituency. On Friday, February 15, 2019, I was at my constituency office in Gayle until 8:00 p.m. During my time there I visited the Gayle transport operators and they voiced many personal concerns, but at no time did anyone complain about the road conditions,” the post by Montague read.
It added: “While I must acknowledge that some of the roads are in poor conditions, action is being taken to address the issue.”
He highlighted several roadways where he said work has commenced.
“The following are sections where work has commenced:
1. The Rio Nuevo to Gayle road has been overlaid with asphaltic concrete (barbagreen)
2. The Gayle to Guys Hill road: Patching began in December 2018
3. Gayle to Cascade road: Patching began in December 2018
4. The Gayle to Dressike road: contract has been signed and we await the go-ahead from the National Contracts Commission (NCC)
5. Dressike to Hunts Town: Patching started in December 2018
6. Roachdale Bridge: Contract has been signed and the equipment to lift the bridge is being imported.
7. The historic arch in Gayle has been removed for repairs.”
In the meantime, the Montague asked residents of the constituency for patience and understanding.
“Citizens, the end of the financial year is approaching, and as such, most Government work will be slowed down or stopped while we await the passing of a new budget. I am asking for your patience and understanding during this time,” he added.
Montague, who is also the Minister for Transport and Mining, concluded his post by urging the residents not to impede persons with protest actions.
“It is clear that I am and always have been accessible to address the concerns of the people. That being said, I support any group’s right to demonstrate. However, I implore you not to impede others while doing so,” he stated.