‘Ease on the way’ for St Joseph commuters

Government is on the job when it comes to long-standing complaints from residents of St Joseph on fixing roads, bridges, providing regular bus service and other matters.

That’s the word from Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley who also announced on Tuesday night that an agreement with China for 100 buses is expected to ease commuters’ problems with public transportation.

Speaking during the St Joseph Speaks town hall meeting at the Grantley Adams Memorial Secondary School in Blackmans, Mottley said 50 of the buses would be long and the other 50 smaller buses.

“We are working with the Transport Authority to put more buses on the route,” she added. “We are waiting on the buses as well …” She anticipated that the fleet of buses would be expanded by early next year.

At the same time the Prime Minister reiterated an appeal for Barbadians to come forward for skills training in construction and related areas to meet a major gap in the availability of workers.

At the town hall meeting, there were persistent concerns from residents, including Delores Thompson, Decourcey Holder, Patricia Phillips and Marilyn Cooke that some of the complaints raised a year ago have not been addressed.

Residents lamented the irregularity of the bus service, the conditions of roads and the need for sporting and community facilities. Thompson also wanted to know what was happening with repairing the Melvin Hill Bridge, which she said was a safety hazard and needed columns replaced.

“We want to know when we gun get roads in St Joseph fixed,” Holder said. “We want to know when we gun get some good roads.”

Residents noted that water woes had been addressed and Thompson thanked Government for patching a road in her area.

Cooke engaged the Prime Minister in a lengthy discussion on residents’ concerns, in particular the fixing of roads while the delays of waiting hours for bus service were highlighted. Thompson described the hours residents of St Joseph have to wait for a government bus as “unfair”.

Deputy Prime Minister Santia Bradshaw said the Scotland District Rehabilitation Project has challenges due to the nature of the soil and the need to have design work undertaken. Bradshaw indicated that soil testing was required and Government wanted the roads and bridges to be constructed properly and avoid recurring issues.

Prime Minister Mottley assured residents Government was on the job but needed to balance the priorities of St Joseph with other parishes.

“All we are asking is (for) is patience. You will see that this work will get done,” she said.

Mottley reiterated an appeal for Barbadians to seek free training under the Construction Gateway programme. She said there was a shortage of skills in 24 areas.

“If we don’t get a steady supply of labour we are going to be in an inflationary situation,” she said.

Minister of Education Kay McConney, whose remit includes vocational training, said: “We are getting ready to start the next co-hort.

“We trained a significant number of people. They received tool kits.”

McConney said Government had provided training in cybersecurity and was considering training in Artificial Intelligence

“We will continue to offer training for these skills,” she said while adding that training in other industries was under consideration.

Attorney General Dale Marshall, the St Joseph Member of Parliament, said: “We are committed to doing what has to be done in St Joseph and we are doing it carefully and methodically and all that we are asking is patience.”

“You will see that this work will get done,” he added. “Stay the course, we will get it done and we have been delivering.”

He cited construction of a new reservoir and addressing of the water problem, the polyclinic and other issues that Government has dealt with.

“The Scotland District has always been a challenge, don’t let us fool ourselves,” Marshall said.

“But the fact that it is a challenge does not mean that we should fix it hastily to satisfy our immediate, certainly my immediate political needs or that we should invest money in it that will not last past two or three years.” (HH)

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