The people of White Hill are today singing a joyful chorus after repair work got started on the collapsed main road leading into their rural St Andrew community.
The development comes just one month after Minister of Transport and Works Dr William Duguid led a team of officials, including Minister of Housing and Lands George Payne, who is parliamentary representative for the area, on a tour of the affected communities of Dark Hole, Spring Vale, Coggins, Hillaby Turners Hall, St Simon’s and White Hill.
The team, which also included Deputy Chief Technical Officer Phillip Tudor, examined the vexing issues of land slippage and deteriorating roads in the Scotland District with Duguid assuring residents at the time that White Hill was one of the new Barbados Labour Party (BLP) Government’s main priorities.
“White Hill is an absolutely essential priority that the Ministry of Public Works will be looking at to try to get that area rectified, and we will be working on that as a matter of urgency,” the recently installed minister had assured.
“There is a lot of work to be done out here in the St Andrew Scotland District and the ministry will be working full steam ahead,” he added.
It was back in 2014 that the main road was condemned by the then Democratic Labor Party (DLP) administration following heavy rains in November of that year.
Residents have since been persistently pleading with officials to put them out of their misery and virtual isolation, but the situation only got worse with then Minister of Housing and Lands Denis Kellman announcing back in November 2017 a plan to relocate the residents on a phased basis to Farmers, St Thomas.
“The relocation project is being undertaken in phases based on the availability of funds and, since the start of Phase 2, ten new houses have been built at Farmers, St Thomas for affected White Hill residents,” Kellman said at the time, while warning that officials, inclusive of the chief town planner, had strongly discouraged any resettlement in White Hill.
“Any person who willfully chooses to erect structures in White Hill, St Andrew, are doing so at their own risk, and they will not be eligible for relocation by Government,” Kellman added.
In an effort to ensure that no further development there, Government had also proposed to compulsorily acquire the land from the 22 homeowners left in White Hill.
However, when a Barbados TODAY team visited the area today, eight workers from the Ministry of Transport and Works (MTW) were hard at work carrying out road repairs, which started last Wednesday.
“We are working using gabions to prevent land slippage,” one of the workmen explained. He also said the new base would be dug deeper than nine feet and the actual road would be widened.
“So far so good,” the official said, while suggesting that once the necessary materials were accessible, the work should be well advanced by December.
Community activist Carlitha Andrews also told Barbados TODAY she was over the moon with the progress, not only in White Hill, but in neighbouring Dark Hole, St Andrew where road repair work is also under way.
“This is going into four years now that we have been suffering and I am happy, elated that this is happening. It is like we won the lottery. Everyone is elated about this progress we are seeing,” she said.
Andrews, who is dubbed the mayor of White Hill, emphasized that it was only two months into a new administration “and look what is happening.
“It just goes to show the difference. We are seeing improvements. We knew it would happen but we didn’t expect it to happen so soon, but we are thankful,” she said while giving full credit to the new BLP led administration which took office here following the May 24 general elections.
“For the last couple of months the road had not been maintained. So the work on the road will help so that the road won’t collapse because this is our only way in and our only way out,” she pointed out.