Prime Minister Andrew Holness says he will visit the community of Troy in North West Manchester where the community bridge collapsed more than a year ago, leaving residents up in arms with the authorities over the length of time it is taking to replace the structure.
Since a section of the bridge plunged into the Hector’s River below, the travel time for residents, including students, has increased significantly; so too the transportation costs. The residents have staged protests at the site and have lashed out at the authorities who they perceive being indifferent to their plight.
In fact, an audio that has been carried on social media of a journalist requesting follow-up information from a minister of Government on the matter, seemingly ended up pouring more salt in the wound, based on the recorded response to the request.
“I’ve seen the situation regarding the Troy Bridge, I’m following it. I have been briefed that the designs are complete, and my understanding is that they’re about to go to procurement soon,” said Holness as he addressed the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
“It is not a situation of which we’re proud,” the prime minister added.
He told the Member of Parliament (MP) for Manchester North Western, Mikael Phillips, that he saw his “outburst” while addressing the matter in Parliament.
Holness also told the Speaker of the House and MP for Trelawny Southern, Marissa Dalrymple-Philibert who shares borders with Phillips, that he also saw her representation on the matter.
“I wish to say that the Government of Jamaica takes these situations very seriously, and it is not our intention for the people to believe that their plight is not considered as serious, and therefore I’m going to be personally visiting Troy. I’m going to make the arrangements and we’ve been moving to fast-track the arrangements to make sure that the bridge is in place,” Holness said.
Since its collapse, residents on both sides of the border, including school children, teachers, farmers and other professionals, have been severely inconvenienced.
A makeshift foot bridge in the form a tree trunk and a zip-line constructed with rope and a plastic crate, is the means by which residents cross the river. However, whenever it rains the swollen river makes it too dangerous to cross, and it washes away the log that is put in place for use as a foot bridge.
Recent reports in the media are that a schoolboy fell in and almost drowned as he attempted to get home from school. He was rescued by his father.
The 125-year-old bridge was in a state of disrepair long before its collapse, according to residents. It connects the communities on both sides of the Hector’s River.