Worsening woes in White Hill
Lashley looking to help of 'social partners'
The White Hill Road in St Andrew will be abandoned, as the Ministry of Transport and Works (MTW), along with other ministries, considers alternative measures to facilitate travel for residents.
“Looking at the condition of this road, and having had a very brief chat with the technical personnel at the MTW, to repair this road, to put it back into a condition that will be passable and comfortable to the residents of White Hill will be extremely costly. So we have to look at . . . what approach we are going to take . . . .
“Certainly, this road will have to be abandoned; it is dangerous. We don’t want to have any problems down here in terms of the residents [not] being able to traverse in and out . . . . We have to look now at alternative measures . . . ,” Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley told reporters today after a tour of White Hill.
MTW Deputy Chief Technical Officer Philip Tudor also warned the situation would get worse.
“The rains have caused the road to fail in the first place; but then as the sun comes and the road starts to dry out, cracks are going to get wider and wider. So you can look for this road getting even worse than it is now,” Tudor explained.
The road, which runs along a slope, collapsed after heavy rains on Friday. The road is impassable to traffic, but residents say they have no other way to go about they daily routines.
“I can’t even describe it, because there is no word in the English dictionary that can describe what we are seeing here today; none whatsoever,” Carlitha Andrews, a resident of the area for almost 30 years, told Barbados TODAY.
“I mean the condition has gone past deplorable. This is like a scene . . . in a horror movie, because you cannot believe that we are living under these conditions. From Saturday we were crying out for help.”
Lashley admitted that the condition at White Hill Road was a first for him and could only be rectified with the help of all the other “social partners”.
“When you look at this, my view is that the Ministry of Transport and Works, along with the Ministry of Housing and Lands, will need to deal with this matter very urgently . . . for the safety of the public . . . .
“I will have to get to the Ministry of Housing and Lands and let them speak to the residents down here . . . . We have to move these residents from this area. You have schoolchildren down here who have to get to school,” the minister stated.
However, Allison Jemmott is adamant that the relocation exercise is a long-term measure. She told Barbados TODAY that something needed to be done now, as the 200 plus residents living at the bottom of the collapsed road were “cut off from society”.
“They are speaking about relocating, but, in a sense, with relocation you still have to be able to get out. We are not going to be relocated any time soon; so we still need a way out . . . . Every day that we get up, the road is a little worse –– to the point now that we cannot even walk.
“I have been living here for 16 years, and I have never seen it like that. Yes, the road would break away a little bit, but I mean this is amazing! The road looks like an earthquake took place here,” Jemmott said.
For Jannady Devonish the situation is even more harrowing. She is praying that an emergency does not occur with her mother who suffers from multiple sclerosis.
“She can’t walk; she is in a wheelchair; and in the event that something happens, I am not even able to lift her up because she is very heavy and this situation is such that you can’t get an ambulance; can’t get nothing to come to you.
“My daughter cried this morning because she couldn’t go to school; she was [afraid] because we couldn’t get across. This is something that I never saw in my 29 years of living up here; and the situation needs to be dealt with urgently,” she told Barbados TODAY with tears rolling down her cheeks.
Jemmott’s daughter and several other children who attend the Hillaby Turner’s Hall Primary School –– some wearing their uniforms –– also appealed to officials to “fix the roads. We want to go to school”.
Residents contend that the situation has been deteriorating from October last year October, and that calls for the Government to address the problem fell on “deaf ears, and we feel abandoned and neglected”.
Oswald Jemmott made it clear he was not content with minister Lashley’s tour of the area.
“I’m not happy. He still did not give us an idea of how we are going to get out or in [daily] . . . . They said the road abandoned and that’s it. Them gone about they business,” he said.
A Light & Power crew, headed by Ricky Edwards, was on location as Lashley and other officials got a first-hand look at the situation. They were trimming and cutting down trees affected by the land slippage.