An ongoing massive roadblock, which up to press time made several thoroughfares across St. James inaccessible to both pedestrians and motorists, brought the parish’s booming transportation system to a screeching halt. And while most of the parish was visibly affected, none felt the sting more than residents from the West Central, East Central and South St. James constituencies, who had to walk miles before being able to get transportation into the city.
When the Western Mirror was called to one of the points of the blockage along the Tucker main road, the massive branches, scraps of old vehicles strewn across the road, and scores of irate motorists, painted the picture of a people frustrated with a prolonged situation.
“We tired a it now man,” one bus driver who plies the Maroon Town to Montego Bay route said, “every day examiner a pressure we and a tek weh we license plate dem, but not once dem nuh look pon di state a di road to figure out what’s causing all these problems with our vehicles!”
Another motorist, who explained to the Western Mirror that he was instrumental in organizing the blockage – which is a collaborated effort between taxi and bus operators from as far as Kensington to those in Tucker, said just last week, he had to spend more than 90 thousand dollars to address a front end damage to to his vehicle while making a trip. “So tell me now sah, how much longer we must put up with this? We tired a all a di promises now. Full time dem tek action.”
While the motorists pleaded their respective cases, a tour deep into the blockage by our news team, revealed scores of people, including students and senior citizens, walking along obstructed roadways, with some journeying from as far as Springfield, and some from John’s Hall, trying to make their way into the city. A 63-year-old woman, with her walking stick for support, stopped to talk to the Western Mirror. “Sir, there are no drivers on the road. I came out of my home in Dam Road, from about 5:30 this morning, and I couldn’t get a drive so I went back into my house, and into my bed.” She said when she got back up, thinking that the transportation situation had improved, she was shocked to see people, who lived great distances from her home, walking along the roadway. “Dem tell me seh road block, and because I had a prescription to fill at Type 5 (health clinic), I had to make the journey so I joined them. Bwoy, when mi done walk, mi sure fi lose whatever likkle weight mi have,” the elderly lady joked as she continued walking.
As our news team journeyed further into the blockage, we were greeted by a contingent of JCF officers, who revealed that they were there to ensure that things did not spiral further out of control. Upon their instruction, our news team was made aware that Councillors Kerry Thomas and Uvel Graham had been making their way through the blockage in an attempt to assess the magnitude of the situation, as well as to come to some resolution to restore normality. It wasn’t until after moving some large branches, with the assistance of passers-by, that we were able to meet with and speak to Councillor Thomas.
Asked about his views on what he had witnessed regarding the blockage, Councillor Thomas explained: “Well, as you can see, the condition of the roads is very, very bad. Also, the drainage systems which are a part of these roads are also in need of urgent attention. When it rains, flooding occurs on these roads, making them impassable; so, I genuinely understand the frustration of the people.” He said: “with the increased traffic brought on by some of the quarries along the road, as well as with new developments taking place, the call for better road condition is certainly an understandable one.”
Up to press time, efforts to contact Councillor Graham proved futile.
In the meantime, reports have surfaced that in some areas, individuals driving their private vehicles are being charged to gain access to other roadways that would lead them around the extended blockage. Despite these accounts, motorists remain adamant that if the situation is not resolved, it may escalate.
The blockage stretches for approximately 20 miles.