Highway project leaves St Thomas community behind
Having no need to worry about motor vehicle speeding by, a herd of goats took up residence along a section of the Grants Pen main road in St Thomas, a tell-tale sign this once vibrant community has seen its best days.
The community, which sits a few miles west of Yallahs, is a victim of the major roadwork in the eastern parish. The impressive four-lane highway, being built under the Southern Coastal Highway Improvement Project, has bypassed the small seaside town. The main road no longer runs through the community, which has meant a slow death for commerce in the area.
"It seems like the road is a growth for St Thomas but not Grants Pen," remarked an ailing senior citizen.
Except for a handful of persons lyming at a corner shop, there was no evidence of life when THE STAR visited last week. They lamented the fact that they now have to walk long distances or pay additional fare in order to enter or exit the community due to the fact that the new road is located a fair distance from the community.
"Me as an old woman sickly, mi affi tek taxi go weh mi ago because me cyah walk go up and down all the time," the elderly resident fumed.
"Dis situation yah a mek wi suffer. Mi have diabetes and sometimes when mi a walk fi too long mi feel like me a guh block out."
The residents said the fact that their community is located near a crocodile habitat makes their situation scarier. They said that persons have encountered crocodiles on the road, and fear that they could one day spring an attack.
"If rain fall yuh see dem come out and lay down on the roadside. Yuh affi know weh yuh do when yuh a walk. Yuh affi worry when yuh send your children dem go school because dem cyah run from alligator," another resident said.
The St Thomas segment of the highway project has moved into the final stages with several areas of the new roadway asphalted, thus giving residents a much-needed relief. But even as the highway takes shape, and brings with it hope of an economic boom for St Thomas, each passing day reinforces brings with it the grim reality that life in Grants Pen has been changed forever. Residents said that there has been a reduction in number of persons flocking to the fishing village during the Easter period. The drying up vendors, they feel, is just the tip of the iceberg.
"Before it was good. People use to come in a dem dozens, non-stop fi buy fish from the man dem a sea. Dem would a buy from the likkle shop dem as well, and everybody a eat a food. It was a growth all round," one resident said.