Bad roads keep students from school - 2 out of 1,300 turn up
For the second consecutive day of the new school year, the desks and chairs in the classrooms at Happy Grove High School in Portland were unoccupied.
The dilapidated roads in St Thomas and Portland have forced public transport operators to withdraw their services from yesterday and they have vowed to continue until the necessary authorities respond to their pleas.
Principal of Happy Grove, Monique Grant-Facey, told The Star that the strike has taken a severe toll on the school. "We had 51 students yesterday and today only two turned up out of the over 1,300 students we have enrolled," Grant-Facey said.
Happy Grove was barricaded yesterday morning by roadblocks from Ken Jones Highway at the end of St Thomas and at the entrance of the school travelling eastbound. The roadblock has not been removed from the school gate. The Star was told by residents that there were a series of roadblocks leading to Manchioneal.
"It is not the students' fault why they are not in school because I know based on information that students were at a popular bus stop in Port Antonio and were not able to get any transport," Grant-Facey said.
Having informed the regional officer about the situation, Grant-Facey said she has been thinking about ways of making up for the days lost. "What I am looking at is that there is a possibility that we might have to make up for time in terms of extending the school year into December," Grant-Facey said.
Member of Parliament for eastern St Thomas, Dr Fenton Ferguson, acknowledged that the roads in his constituency are need of repair. "It could have been January or February of this year there was significant patching that took place but the truth is what is needed for this corridor of road, especially areas like Hordley, Amity Hall and Leith Hall, is reconstruction," he said.
Swarmed by angry residents of Hector's River in Portland who were lamenting the absence of their Member of Parliament, Lynvale Bloomfield, Ferguson said that he wrote to the CEO of the National Works Agency last Thursday asking for an emergency response before the reopening of schools but has not received a response.
When The Star asked Minister of State with responsibility for Works, Everald Warmington, what will be done about the conditions of the road in the mentioned parishes he blatantly said "Nothing". "You can't call mi at this time a ask mi bout road and ting. The MPs in those constituencies are fully aware of the programmes in place for those constituencies," Warmington said.
Attempts to contact Bloomfield proved futile. Taxi operator, Donovan Robinson who runs between Golden Grove and Manchioneal, pointed to his vehicle perched on a stump on the side of the road in Hector's River. "A di bad road enuh. A it do mi car suh wa mek we affi go to dis process. Every day front end parts si dem yah," Robinson said pointing to the parts inside the car.