Hope Village choking under dust from highway construction
Vibration from drilling adds structural fears to health concerns
WILLIAMSFIELD, Manchester: Residents of Hope Village, which is located near Williamsfield in Manchester, have now joined those from other districts in voicing their displeasure at the effects of ongoing work on the Williamsfield to May Pen leg of...
Residents of Hope Village, which is located near Williamsfield in Manchester, have now joined those from other districts in voicing their displeasure at the effects of ongoing work on the Williamsfield to May Pen leg of Highway 2000 in their community.
Dust nuisance as well as vibration and noise from drilling activities are the main grievances of those closest to the construction areas.
“Before the highway start, we never have so much dust. You dust (clean) today, and tomorrow, you frighten fi see the furniture. Sometime you can even see it in the atmosphere, and my grandchildren, who are asthmatic, have been having flare-ups,” one resident complained.
Asking that her identity be withheld, the woman said that she is yet to see any representative from National Road Operating and Constructing Company Limited (NROCC) since the start of the year.
Residents believe that work on a bridge, which contractors began constructing three weeks ago, may be the source of their distress.
“They come here one time when we had our citizens’ association meeting last year, and they said they would put in something to trap the dust and block the noise, but it nuh work out ... . We should be having another meeting next month, but I don’t know if any of them will be coming,” said the frustrated resident.
Mario Mitchell, councillor of the Bellefield Division in which Hope Village falls, said that while he has been in dialogue with the contractors, he has not been able to reach them since getting additional complaints from the residents.
He also believes there is a need for more dust barriers as even persons far away from the main construction areas are being affected.
“When you wipe the verandah, it’s red. You look on the furniture and it’s the same thing. We haven’t heard anything about dust compensation, and we are not sure what is going to take place,” a second resident complained.
She expressed fear that her furniture may deteriorate and the outer walls of her house become discoloured over time. She is also worried that the structure could be compromised as a result of the constant vibration caused by the drilling.
“I was standing in my kitchen one morning, and I could hear the windows and the cupboards on the wall vibrating and I thought it was an earthquake,” said the resident, who asked not to be named. “It (sound) went away and came back, and it was then that I realised it was the drilling. We are definitely having problems.”
The homeowners said that they have been told to report incidents of cracking walls, among other issues, to NROCC, and told The Gleaner that they are prepared to take action if there is no redress.
NROCC Managing Director Stephen Edwards said that despite their efforts to control the dust and maintain the air quality, dust screens, fencing, and other construction material have repeatedly gone missing from the construction sites.
“The matter has been brought to the attention of the Jamaica Constabulary Force. Unfortunately, the mysterious disappearance of dust screens has contributed to the discomfort that residents experience. Nevertheless, the project team continues to replace them as quickly as possible,” he said.
Edwards added that air-quality monitoring stations are placed along the construction site and eight water trucks wet the roadway on a regular basis to reduce the problem.
He said that the team is working quickly to wrap up the project.
“About 65 per cent of the installation of the first asphaltic layer is in place. The project team is working expeditiously to continue with the installation of asphalt to suppress and eliminate dust,” said Edwards.
The highway is being built at a cost of US$188.5 million and is scheduled for completion in March 2023.
Edwards said it is now 73 per cent complete.