Amid concerns that residents may return to the streets today to protest over poor road conditions, local representatives of the two major political parties have appealed for people to desist from blocking the roadways, including the crucial Linstead bypass in St Catherine.
Residents of various communities in the Treadways area of Linstead protested in the streets yesterday, October 22, to vent their frustration over the deplorable condition of the roadway leading to Treadways.
That road is also used by residents of various other communities, including Bermaddy, Mount Diablo and Ginger Heights.
The protesters, who demanded answers from Member of Parliament Robert Pickersgill who was not at the scene of the protest, used trees, stones, and other debris to block the roadway. They also blocked the railway used by West Indies Alumina Company (WINDALCO).
The roadblocks prevented commuters – including several students – from going about their usual business.
The Jamaica Labour Party candidate for St Catherine North West, Newton Amos, said the residents cleared the roadway after he addressed them.
“While they were rightfully under the law demonstrating, they should have done so without this level of blocking of the road and committing an obstruction,” he told The Beacon.
Amos added: “I appealed to them and they cleared the road. I had to call the fire brigade and ask them to come with a cutter to cut the chains [protesters placed] on the train halt. That was done… I addressed the massive crowd that was present; I was well received. I sympathize with them, but they are the ones that made a mistake to put a [political] representative there who is absent and missing in action for so long.”
Amos, who said he has been contacting the authorities in an effort to have the road repaired, is elated that there was no physical clash between residents and members of the security forces at the scene.
“I appealed to the police to not be overhanded in treating with the civilians, but to have dialogue and discussion so that the thing could be dealt with amicably,” he said. “I am very happy that nothing out of place between the police and citizens happened.”
In the meantime, Councillor for the Treadways Division, Sydney Rose, said he sympathizes with the residents, but will only support their protest if it is done within the confines of the law.
“I am not going to support any protest to block the road, but if you want to demonstrate – which is within the ambit of the law peacefully – I would not hesitate to support,” he said while noting that he too visited the scene of the protest.
Rose noted that the National Works Agency is responsible for the road – not the St Catherine Municipal Corporation of which he is a member.
He added that, despite the road not being under his purview, he has been imploring the NWA to address the matter but is being told that the agency does not have enough funds.
Rose said the NWA has informed him that it already did the ‘measurement’ of the road to Treadways, and intends to undertake repair there. However, not timeline has been given for the rehabilitation to take place.
Rose, in the meantime, said he has stated some drain cleaning in the area. “I started some drain cleaning in the Time and Patience area with a view of moving into the other areas, notwithstanding the fact that the road is not under the Municipal Corporation,” the Councillor added.
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