White Hill road ‘a must’
It will cost $20 to $25 million to relocate the estimated 50 houses at White Hill, St Andrew, far more than simply fixing the collapsed road in the beleagured district.
So says Minister of Housing, Lands and Rural Development, and St Andrew Member of Parliament George Payne.
He made the disclosure yesterday while on an expansive tour with Minister of Transport, Works and Maintenance William Duguid, and Minister in that ministry Peter Phillips, where more problem areas in the rural community were identified.
“Whether or not the houses are relocated, that road must be fixed because Belleplaine is a major artery leading to the St Andrew area. So you can’t look at it in terms of economic benefits. If you look at it strictly in terms of economics and you look at the costs of resiting all of the houses in the White Hill area, I think there is no way we would be able to achieve that,” Payne said.
The exact costs to repair the road, which had seen numerous land slippages over the years, were not disclosed, but Duguid told the press that a White Hill subcommittee had been set up, led by Phillips, to work alongside the Soil Conservation Unit.
Duguid said they would be moving proactively to prevent further disaster.
“There is a second area where we also saw that the road is about to collapse, so we’re going to work on that as a matter of urgency so that the White Hill area does not get trapped between two sections of road. So there is a lot of work to be done and the ministry will be working full steam ahead,” he said.
The committee is expected to provide options like an alternative road, or if a repair with gabions could get the job done.
Problems were also identified in Bawdens, St Simon’s Spring Vale and Coggins Hill in St Andrew, and Dark Hole, St Joseph.
For many years, residents in White Hill have had to deal with land slippage due to the topography. However, things went downhill in November 2014 after heavy rainfall and according to residents, a “broken main” weakened the soil. Since then the main road into the district has become a treacherous path only passable by foot.
Resident Carlitha Andrews described the road as an artery, but said she was never given the option of moving.
“It doesn’t matter if we stay or go. That road can lead to so many places so I think it should be fixed. We were not given the option of being relocated. It was only mouth talk that was in the media, but we welcome anything from this administration,” she said.
Another resident, Makiala Ayoka, said she did not want to leave because of the richness of the soil.
“Our foreparents plant on a lot of this land, produce food and it was self-sufficient. Everywhere you look around you can see food, so we don’t want to run and leave that food to go in a place to just see grass,” Ayoka said. (TG)