Sun | Sep 24, 2023

‘Death trap’

Golden Spring rage at ramshackle roads; MP claims political vendetta

Published:Monday | February 21, 2022 | 12:12 AMDavid Salmon/Gleaner Writer -
A section of an unasphalted road in Golden Spring, St Andrew West Rural.
A section of an unasphalted road in Golden Spring, St Andrew West Rural.
Derrick Simon, president of the Stock Farm Communities Citizens’ Association.
Derrick Simon, president of the Stock Farm Communities Citizens’ Association.
Residents walk along an unpaved road in Golden Spring on Sunday.
Residents walk along an unpaved road in Golden Spring on Sunday.

St Andrew West Rural Member of Parliament Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn has described as politically motivated lobbyists in Golden Spring demanding improved roads, but a citizens’ association president and other residents have cited the thoroughfares as “death traps” in need of intervention.

Cuthbert-Flynn, a two-term lawmaker for the ruling Jamaica Labour Party, has appealed for patience from residents, arguing that the budgetary allocation for the repair or overhaul of corridors in her mainly hilly constituency was inadequate.

“For the last five years, I have been given quite a sum to fix so many roads in St Andrew West Rural. However, it is not enough … . Hundreds of roads in 63 constituencies cannot be fixed in five years,” said Cuthbert-Flynn.

Cuthbert-Flynn disclosed that the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation spent, three years ago, $5 million in repairs to Stock Farm Road, at the entrance of the community, but conceded that an additional $10 million was needed.

Since the coronavirus pandemic, the member of parliament said that no funds have been approved for rehabilitation beyond patching. However, she is hopeful that an allocation will be made in the coming fiscal year.

That optimism, however, could not assuage Sunday’s boiling anger among residents of Golden Spring who expressed frustration at what they labelled substandard political representation from their member of parliament

Richard Madden, a member of the Stock Farm Communities Citizens’ Association, said that despite multiple meetings and invitations, Cuthbert-Flynn has not visited the community.

“It really feels like the MP has little or no interest in doing roads in this area,” he said in a Gleaner interview, days after Cuthbert-Flynn became embroiled in a Twitter battle with users about the standard of roads in the constituency.

According to Madden, councillor for the Stony Hill division, Tosha Schwapp donated $100,000 towards repairing the road. But that is a drop in the bucket because of the scale of erosion.

One resident, who spoke to The Gleaner on condition of anonymity, said that since living in the community for 10 years, only minor repairs have been made to her road. Householders, the resident said, have had to collect tile chippings and cement to cobble together short-term solutions.

“Other areas that are represented by Ms Cuthbert-Flynn, I am told, have been in immaculate condition since she came into power … . We are seeing that you are taking care of other areas,” the resident said.

Another resident, who revealed that she has lupus, said that walking on pothole-riddled roads exacerbates her pain. Since moving to the community, she has experienced additional pain to her knees, inflamed joints, and sprained ankles.

“It is disturbing and alarming. When I was pregnant and walking on the road, I was very nervous. Suppose I step somewhere and fall down? I could lose my baby,” she said.

But Cuthbert-Flynn took aim at Derrick Simon, president of the Stock Farm Communities Citizens’ Association, who she has dubbed mischievous.

“It is a political vendetta against me because as soon as I won in 2016, himself, the president of the citizens’ association, along with a few members of the community, who are PNP, went in front of the prime minister’s office with placards,” Cuthbert-Flynn said.

She said Simon has lobbied various persons, including Minister without Portfolio Everald Warmington and Robert Hill, chief executive officer of the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC). The MP said some funds have been allotted and that Hill had committed further assistance.

When contacted by The Gleaner, Hill acknowledged that a plan exists for the rehabilitation of the roadway.

However, up to press time, details on those arrangements could not be provided.

Simon, in an interview with The Gleaner, blasted the member of parliament’s accusations of political victimisation as “preposterous”.

“This is a working-class community, so to even think of labelling us is disingenuous, to say the very least. I want that to be clear as crystal. We vote by private ballot. She is out of order to be ascribing a political label to any community,” he said.

Simon described the situation as a “burning shame”, hinting that he believes that residents got branded after they protested in Stony Hill Square using balloons.

The association president said that in 2017, Minister of Local Government Desmond McKenzie sent a technical team to compile the estimates of the repairs.

Documents seen by The Gleaner indicate that at the time, repairs to Stock Farm Road would have cost $33,495,000; Valley Farm Road, $6,033,500; Steel Road, $7,458,000; and Joyce Road, $7,738,500.

Simon said that the community is willing to work with the Government to provide some funds for the project amid the limited resources.

“The road has deteriorated beyond our capacity to financially repair it, and now the road is a death trap,” he said.