Community Focus: Bad roads crippling Bunkers Hill
Despite its awesome tourism potential, the deplorable state of the roads in Bunkers Hill, Trelawny, is proving to be a major impediment to its development.
When the WESTERN STAR visited the community last week, the residents complained bitterly about the state of roads, saying it had been decades since the authorities did any road repairs.
"I have been doing business here over 30 years, and a lot of sales people have withdrawn their services because of the road condition," said shopkeeper Bevon Kerr.
"I used to buy animal feed from Hi-Pro in Kingston, and on a number of occasions, they complained about things breaking off their vehicle when they come in the community, and so they decided not to come back."
With animal feed no longer coming into the community, farmers have no choice but to travel to places like Falmouth to meet that need, which is an additional expense to them.
"This is very expensive on us," said John 'Mr B' Brown. "When it comes to transportation, because of the road conditions, the taxi operators charge an extra $50 or $100 per bag of feed. With many farmers coming out of the business, it has affected the community so much ... The community is so slow."
While Bunkers Hill is primarily a farming community today, it has produced distinguished Jamaicans such as former University of the West Indies Vice Chancellor, the late Professor Rex Nettleford, and track and field personalities Audrey Reid, Warren Weir, and Rosemarie Whyte. There is also a network of caves in the community, to include the Qua Cave, which was a favourite hiding place for the Maroons.
The residents are convinced that the community has the potential to earn big time from tourism, but the bad roads are a problem. And in addition to affecting mobility, residents argue that the road conditions are also leading to significant brain drain. They said that young people, especially those who go off to universities, often decide against returning to the community because of the road conditions, which is hampering existing investments in Bunkers Hill.
"Even the people who are trying to develop the area's tourism attraction are feeling it," explained Laurel Kerr, a disgruntled resident. "People want to turn back because it is a long stretch of road to reach the waterfall (the community's main attraction) and most of it is bad ... full of potholes."
The residents, who have staged major protests over the road conditions in the past, say that they need better political representation as they are not convinced that their current representatives are doing enough to rectify the situation.
"The people who go abroad don't come back here to build," said Kerr. " ... and it is all because of the bad road conditions, so we are not going to vote again until the roads are fixed."