Treadlight on edge as canal fury boils over
Residents of Treadlight in central Clarendon say they feel like they are on a ticking time bomb.
Days before the start of the Atlantic hurricane season, they say even a light shower of rain is cause for panic because of the unfinished state of a canal.
In an interview with The Gleaner, Lorelei Mulgrave, who has been living in the community for about 50 years, said the canal works began in December 2020, but it has been a stop-start project, causing trauma for residents.
Mulgrave said a letter was sent to the Clarendon Municipal Corporation last July by registered mail, and the canal was dismantled two months later as the job was poorly done.
“The cement blocks were not properly staggered, not enough cement in the block holes, little or no cement in between the blocks, and no wall columns,” she said, citing some of the reported faults.
Life has been uncomfortable and costly for the residents as their entire lifestyle has been affected.
“For over one year now, persons cannot drive in and out of their premises. Emergency vehicles cannot come in and out of our premises, our neighbours have to park their vehicles on the road, which is a security risk,” Mulgrave complained, adding that the garbage truck cannot drive up to residents’ gates to collect refuse.
Soil erosion has presented another imminent danger, she shared, as the base of the perimeter walls has been eroded by heavy rainfall, with utility poles precariously perched and could fall any day.
One neighbour, said Mulgrave, had to tie the utility pole to her wall to help secure it.
There are fears that torrential rainfall could cause the at least four utility poles to collapse, endangering people and property.
Commenting on what she dubbed shoddy work standards, Mulgrave said that backhoes have been deployed to excavate the canal on at least four occasions since construction began, with residents having to endure dust, mud, and mosquito woes.
In December 2020, the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), through its Integrated Community Programme, implemented the project.
Omar Sweeney, managing director of the JSIF, said work has been restarted and is being monitored daily.
“We started back from early May because I am monitoring it daily now. What we are trying to do is to get all the works in that drain re-established as soon as possible,” Sweeney said in a Gleaner interview.
“We want to get the main drain re-established. I don’t know if we will get it before the hurricane season starts, but he (the contractor) is working to get everything ASAP,” he added.
Sweeney disclosed that there had been some difficulty in arriving at an agreement on the contractor and scope of work.
But he has sought to assuage residents’ concerns, saying, “At JSIF, we don’t leave projects unfinished and it is going to be done correctly.”
Lynette Green, another resident of Treadlight, said normality can’t come soon enough.
“We just want a peaceful resolution to it. Just give us back the canal and cover it up. Give us the culvert and cover it quick time and full it up back,” Green said.
“Bridge decaying daily; it’s deteriorating.”