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IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST: Please, Mr Lashley, help Melverton

ROY R. MORRIS, [email protected]

IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST: Please, Mr Lashley, help Melverton

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I HAVE A VERY GOOD RAPPORT with Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley. I can call him Michael, even in public, and he will not take offence. I believe I have all of his cellphone numbers and home number as well, and can find him when he is not at home or at work – and does not want to be found.

By the same token, he does not hesitate to call me early in the morning or late at night if he has news he wants to get into the newspaper, or if we have published something he believes is unfair or inaccurate or portrays him, his ministry, his constituency or his party in a bad light.

I also can’t call him thin-skinned, at least not in his dealings with me, because even when he is upset, he will return a phone call and even if his language becomes robust, he still ends every conversation on a pleasant note.

It is against this background that I believe I can tell Minister Lashley neither he, his ministry nor his contractor, Rayside Construction, is being fair to the people of Melverton and surrounding districts in St George with this road improvement project that has been ongoing far longer than it would have taken men with shovels, axes and hoes to complete in the 1940s and 50s.

And the truth is, as far as I am concerned, it is really not about the road anymore. I wrote about this unfinished project and the inconvenience it brought to residents of the area and so many other motorists on June 24 this year – the eve of Soca Royale at Bushy Park in St Philip.

I wrote about it then because it had been one year since I had highlighted the problem, after having to drive over the road in 2014 on my way to the same event at Bushy Park. But if that had been the extent of my complaining on behalf of the affected, it would be perhaps tolerable. Unfortunately, it gets worse.

I also wrote about the problem during Crop Over 2013 and Crop Over 2012.

And here’s a further observation: After every article in each of those years, the contractor appeared to re-mobilise resources on the project and some work was undertaken, but the effort was never sustained.

I repeat my call from the previous article for Minister Lashley to light a fire under this contractor. Or to provide the firm with the resources it needs to do the job.

I don’t believe Government can justify the suffering of these residents for all these years based on strained financial resources. Many other projects have been worked on and completed and even in the best of times authorities have to prioritise their work.

The people of Melverton and surrounding districts have suffered enough. In all fairness, let some other district endure dust and potholes for a while so these long-suffering Bajans can get some relief.

Minister Lashley, I implore you to come to their rescue. They have taken notice of the poor treatment they have been receiving and many of them believe you and your Government do not care about their health or the inconvenience they are suffering.

If you don’t believe me, read this email titled “Road to Frustration”, which I received only on November 26:

Dear Mr Morris

“I am begging you to once again use your good office and pen to help us in Drax Hall and surrounding communities to be delivered from the never-ending stretch of road repairs on the Halton to Brighton stretch of Highway 4.

“It would appear to me, a resident of the Drax Hall community, that efforts are made to expedite the repairs only after you write an article in your newspaper on the said road. You are well aware of the circumstances of these road repairs that have now spanned nearly half a decade.

“Almost immediately after your last article in July 2015, and just prior to the Soca Royale event at Bushy Park, work recommenced on the road with great fervour. So much so, that we the residents in the area felt sure that all the work would have been completed by the start of the new school term in September 2015.

“All curbs were completed between the Christian Mission Church at the Melverton junction to the junction with St Luke’s Anglican Church. The road was marl filled and rolled ready for paving.

“To our surprise, we observed that there was no activity for a few days, followed by the total removal of all equipment from the site. Since September we have had rains that have reduced the road once again to a chequerboard of potholes. When it is dry, each passing vehicle creates a dust storm covering whomever and whatever else happens to be in the vicinity. The road that takes you through Melverton is also in dire need of repair since this is now widely used by persons trying to avoid the main road.

“Mr Morris, I passed through the Clerview area on Saturday and saw a four-inch-wide strip along the side of the road being dug up. To my dismay, yesterday (24 November) I passed that way again only to see MPW workers paving a perfectly good stretch of road.

“I am now totally at a loss. How could a road that has been dug up for four days be a priority over one that has been dug up for nearly five years? What or who makes that area more important than ours? I am now totally confused! What are we to do? The company fixing the road would say it is the Government’s fault the road is not fixed; Government officials would say it is the company.

“And in the midst of all this dust and confusion, the people of Melverton, Byde Mill, Drax Hall; Drax Hall Jump and Drax Hall Woods continue to suffer!!!”

How many more articles do I have to write, Mr Minister?