Pitch darkness worries Three Hills, Retreat residents
Along the North Coast Highway, nestled between the urban centre of Ocho Rios and the picturesque seaside communities of Tower Isle, St Mary, is a mile-long stretch of lonely road lined on both sides with hundreds of tall, elegant, and arching trees.
Traversing the thoroughfare in daylight hours can be a pleasurable experience, but at night, the A3 main road at Prospect is a frightening and perilous place, chiefly because the area has no streetlights.
Drivers complain about the poor visibility; and a bus stop serving the St Mary Country Club and nearby communities such as Three Hills, Retreat, and Labyrinth remains abandoned after sunset as local residents are petrified of being attacked while waiting for a ride.
For the past 10 years, taxi driver Jason Burrell has worked the route from his home in Petersfield, near Three Hills, to Ocho Rios, St Ann. He travels through Prospect regularly, and believes erecting some lights on the main road would help alleviate the residents' anxieties.
CAN'T SEE ANYTHING
"The problem is that the area is very dark because the bushes hang over the road, so when cars from the opposite direction come with their bright lights, you can't see anything," Burrell said.
"It's dangerous for many reasons because somebody who doesn't know the area might come off at that bus stop, and if night catches them, the place is so dark maybe no taxi will stop to pick them up," he continued.
"Normally, they used to do robberies there and carry girls off to rape them and things like that. If you're driving through there and anything happens at night, a man has to really know you before he stops. It's very scary, trust me."
Three Hills resident Ionie Clarke said, "The whole area needs light, because when you turn off the main road and go up to Three Hills, it's very dark.
"People say their lives are in jeopardy walking on that road because you're taking a chance. Even I'm afraid when I have to walk down to the main road, and I would never do that at night."
Councillor for the Retreat division in the St Mary Parish Council, Hugh Radway, acknowledged the area desperately needs lighting and has tried to address the issue, but noted that no new street lights had been erected anywhere in St Mary since 2009.
"Sometime last year, the local government suggested that we recommend three areas where street lights were necessary but had been removed. I recommended locations in Retreat, Rio Nuevo and the bus stop, which I erected in Prospect, but up until now, no councillor has received any street lights," Radway said.
"We were awaiting a response, but there has since been a change of administration, and I don't know if they are going to continue with the same request. I have tried within my portfolio to resolve the issue, and it's taking a while, but, hopefully, something will fall through in a short time, because that location is very dangerous."