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Residents angry at slow pace of road work

Residents angry at slow pace of road work

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Residents of Hopewell being affected by the closure of the Hopewell Road are being assured that work is ongoing and should be completed by the middle of the year.{{more}}

This is the word coming from Richard MacLeish, project coordinator of the Hurricane Tomas Emergency Recovery Project (HTERP), who explained that work on the Hopewell-Zenga River site was expected to begin this week, following a two-week intermission.

However, a news release dated January 9, from the Central Planning Division, stated that “conditions on the site have however necessitated the acquisition of land which had impacted on the World Bank’s social safeguards policy. The policy dictates that construction must be suspended, pending the completion of a list of actions that include an amendment to the loan agreement and compensation for the land acquisition.”

“It’s really a legal issue,” MacLeish told SEARCHLIGHT.

But bearing in mind all the legal work that needs to be done, he said that it is expected that all the necessary paperwork is expected to be completed by April and then it was only a matter of completing the work on the road.

This, according to MacLeish, was expected to be completed by the end of July.

The project began on August 6, 2012 and was expected to be completed by July this year.

The objective to the project is to stabilize a section of the Hopewell Road that was sinking and in danger of sliding into the Zenga River.

But since the project got underway, residents in the area say that they have been inconvenienced.

One resident, when contacted, said that he has now been forced to go over Maroon Hill.

He further explained that his daughter has a vehicle, “but we have to drive longer.”

Silky Benn, another resident in the area, said that it now takes him an extra 20 minutes to get out from his home.

“I have to circle to Maroon Hill, come back down – while it takes me three minutes from where I live to get on the main road, it now takes me 20 extra minutes,” Benn explained.

And with the current price of gasoline, he says that the amount of time and petrol he burns will probably get him to another destination.

“All we were told is that the job is held up and the people working on it say they waiting on the authorities and the only people who seem to be in operation is the guy operating the excavator,” Benn added.

He also complained that the lack of access was not only causing a problem for residents in the area, but to the schoolchildren from other parts, particularly those from Greiggs, Lowmans and Lauders attending the various institutions in the Marriaqua Valley.

According to Benn, they have to walk sometimes up to two miles to get to their schools, once the school bus drops them off right at the site.

Another resident, Catherine Carr, said that her children are now forced to walk to school.

“They have to walk through a banana field and all kind of thing,” the woman said.

“I am concerned about the road and I don’t know when they going finish the road – all through banana field you have to walk.

“Since August last year, they not doing anything about it at all, I can’t even get to go to church,” the irate woman said.

Residents contend that work has been abandoned and they are being forced to find alternative routes to and from their homes.

But MacLeish refutes that claim saying that work has not been abandoned and they have had to deal with all the loose material slipping into the river.

“The only way to deal with it is to excavate all that material, so unfortunately we had to deny access to fix it (the road),” he said.

“There will be some inconvenience over a significant period of time, but we inconvenience people to save lives,” Mac Leish continued.

“Change in this instance tends to aggravate residents, because they only see what is in front of them, but regarding the status of the project, it is ongoing,” he said.

And while the project is expected to be completed later this year, Mac Leish told SEARCHLIGHT that the road aspect should be completed soon.

In the interim, Mac Leish explained that because of the graces of the Cato family, who have consented for pedestrian traffic to traverse their land, the schoolchildren can get to their respective destinations. (DD)

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