Residents of Hayfield, St. Thomas, have welcomed the rehabilitation of two kilometres of roadway in their community, which they say makes it easier for them to transport their produce to the market.
The road was repaired at a cost of approximately $37.3 million with funding from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), under the Community Investment Programme, and was implemented by Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF).
The project entailed asphalting of the roadway; construction of retaining walls; and the installation of new drains and repairing of others to lengthen the lifespan of the road, given the high levels of rainfall which the area experiences.
State Minister for Transport, Works and Housing, Hon. Richard Azan, encouraged the residents, some 40 per cent of whom are farmers, to maintain the roadway, noting that it is their responsibility.
“If you see anything blocking the drains, clear the drains. If there is a landslide, let us go back to the days where the community used to come out and and clear those landslides. What you can’t manage, you have to get the parish council involved in. But what the community can do, do it,” Minister Azan urged while addressing Wednesday’s (March 27) handing over ceremony for the road.
Farmer, Roosevelt Dean, one of several residents integrally involved in the project’s execution said he was overjoyed at the outcome.
“In Hayfield, we do farming for a living and this stretch of road that we get, it improve our life so much… It helps us to get out our coffee.and the people dem going to market. First time we couldn’t get any vehicle fi come fi dem, and now the amount of vehicle coming for them (is great)… So we can say this stretch of road do a lot for us,” Mr. Dean said.
He also pointed out that the improved roadway is assisting to advance tourism development in the area. He said tourists going to Bowden Pen to hike along the historic Cunha Cunha Pass, “come here, park their vehicles and we have the tour guides carry them to Bowden Pen and back.”
Pastor, Gwynette Sutherland, who has been living in Hayfield for over 30 years, says the road signifies greater development in the community.
“It is much easier to get produce to the market. We don’t stumble for transportation (anymore). It is a little better for school children also, because, sometimes, not having the transport to take them down, they suffer. They have to be walking down in the early morning and this was not good enough; and so they really benefit. We grateful for the road,” she said.
President of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), Hayfield branch, Tilford Bennett, has been putting in even more effort in the fields since the road has been repaired. “I know that with this road, my produce will be going to the market for Easter,” Mr. Bennett said.
In the meantime, JSIF’s Project Manager, Celia Dillon, noted that rural communities remain among the most underserved and under resourced areas, resulting in the continuous migration of thousands of persons to urban centres, where they add to the problem of overcrowding.
“It is now expected that these improvements will enhance the overall socio-economic levels of the community, by allowing greater vehicular movement throughout the community and new access to markets,” she said.
Ms. Dillon also informed that residents have been engaged in training sessions where they were exposed to ways of conducting routine and preventative maintenance.
By Andrea Braham, JIS Reporter