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Almost marooned, Llandewey residents appeal for new bridge

Published:Tuesday | October 6, 2020 | 6:23 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
Phillip Henry said that residents of Llandewey, St Thomas, periodically place irons under the bridge to support it when heavy vehicles are passing over. The bridge was further damaged last week and is inaccessible by vehicles.
Phillip Henry said that residents of Llandewey, St Thomas, periodically place irons under the bridge to support it when heavy vehicles are passing over. The bridge was further damaged last week and is inaccessible by vehicles.
A tractor clears debris obstructing the flow of water as a normally dry river in Font Hill, St Thomas, surged to life and blocked the path of commuters as rains pelt the island. Residents also hitched a ride on the tractor to make it to the other side.
A tractor clears debris obstructing the flow of water as a normally dry river in Font Hill, St Thomas, surged to life and blocked the path of commuters as rains pelt the island. Residents also hitched a ride on the tractor to make it to the other side.
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Residents of Llandewey, Font Hill and Georgia in St Thomas are appealing for urgent repairs to a bridge in the area out of fears of being marooned as recent rains have damaged or inundated alternative routes.

The bridge has been in need of repair for quite a while, Llandewey Councillor Edwin Marr told The Gleaner.

He said that he has been constantly lodging reports in the St Thomas Municipal Corporation about the dilapidated state of the Llandewey bridge, which he said was built in the 1940s, but nothing has been done.

“The authorities promised me every single year they would undertake remedial work on the bridge and until today, none of the authorities have paid us a visit,” Marr told The Gleaner yesterday.

The situation was made worse last week when a wheel on a truck filled with aggregate from a nearby quarry became stuck in a hole in the bridge. Residents said they used a backhoe to pull the unit from the badly damaged bridge, which can now only accommodate pedestrian traffic.

“The residents there are in pain in terms of going in and leaving the community, so we are asking that the authorities pay us some immediate attention because this situation is also adversely affecting the older people in the community who depend on the route to go to the nearest pharmacy in Yallahs,” Marr pleaded.

CUT OFF FROM SERVICES

The Llandewey clinic, the PC Bank, a police station and the parish office of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority, as well as a post office, are all cut off from the people they serve. Taxis also have to terminate their routes on either side of the bridge as passengers walk across.

“If a doctor should come in, they can’t because of the state of the bridge. If the police want to respond to a crime, they can’t, and if one our elders need emergency transportation, it can t reach them,” the councillor lamented.

“It is an unacceptable scenario for the citizens to bear this type of unfairness when the authorities could have done far better earlier than this,” he added.

St Thomas Western Member of Parliament James Robertson confirmed that several communities are significantly impacted by the damaged bridge and that the National Works Agency (NWA) was aware of the situation.

“These waterways behave more like gullies than rivers, so once the water recedes, then we will start some work on the problem,” he said.

NWA Communications Manager Stephen Shaw said the agency is working on a two-pronged strategy that includes replacing the old bridge and re-establishing the detour route.

“The new bridge is already being designed and we are looking to see how quickly we can have it procured so that we can move to have the work implemented as soon as possible,” said Shaw.

Residents reportedly went about patching holes in the bridge two years ago after noticing signs of structural damage as pleas to the authorities went unanswered.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com