Slipping away


Phyllis Cumberbatch is still living in limbo at Vaughns Road No 1, St Joseph, where the road collapsed three years ago.
But she is not the only one these days crying out for help.
Her neighbours on the adjoining road are feeling the pressure also now that the road is also showing further signs of cracking.
But what has the majority of residents perturbed is that none of the agencies, including the Ministry of Transport and Works, has returned to the district to conduct roadworks. And they are beginning to feel as if the entire area has been abandoned.
Cumberbatch, who was forced to flee her home and live by a friend when the road collapsed in 2011, moved back last March, even though the area had been deemed unsafe and her house was also slipping.
“I had to move back in with four of my children and two grandchildren because we have nowhere else to go. The Rural Development Commission said they would have helped me to relocate but I keep calling and I am not hearing anything from them,” the 45-year-old mother of six said.
Her other two children are staying at her mother’s house, a stone’s throw away.
And she said the situation was even more acute now.
The steps which were installed on either side of the collapsed road to make it easier for her and her family to traverse are also collapsing and the movement of the land has also caused gabions which were installed at the side of the road to crumble.
“A lot of coconut trees and breadfruit trees have fallen down,” the distressed woman said pointing to vacant land opposite her home.
In addition, she lamented that with severe back problems which she has had for years, she was finding it a huge challenge traversing the broken road, as she has to carry her three-year-old daughter.
“I have a slipped disc, a pinched nerve and arthritis in my back. I does be in real pain – so much pain that I can’t even work my kitchen garden anymore and it hard on me walking on this road,” she cried.
Over at the other side, residents complained that there were expanding potholes along sections of the road which had caused many of them to fall.
Dorothy Cumberbatch, 78, who walks with a limp, fell two months ago while another woman said her three-year-old nephew also fell, suffering cuts and bruises.
Her neighbour 80-year-old Ruby Taitt, who is disabled and uses a walker, lamented that she has been a shut-in for the past seven years because the bus which used to collect her from her home no longer comes through the area.
“The bus driver told me that he is not coming through the bottom anymore because of the road and that I?would have to walk to the main road. How he expect me to walk when I am disabled?” she asked.
“I have my medication to go for and my doctor appointments but I cannot leave home anymore because I have no transportation.”
The residents also pointed out that because of the collapsed road, everyone had to travel the longer road to get out of the district but that stretch of road had no street lights.
“It does be pitch-black and most of the people who live out here are single women who work shifts. People does have to leave home to meet their family on the main road. We call the Light & Power and ask for some street lights but up to now nobody ain’t come,” a concerned resident said.
Another pointed out that her 64-year-old mother no longer goes to church during the week because she was afraid to walk the long, dark road.
Cumberbatch feels as if the area has been abandoned.
“MTW, Water Works, Light & Power – nobody don’t come out here. The only time you does see anybody out here is around elections,”?she claimed.
And she mentioned that she and her children were living in fear and unable to sleep properly at night in their home.
“My kitchen garden which was on one acre of land has fallen ten feet into the gully behind me. No emergency vehicle can’t get to me. The house always pulling away and when it does that the water main does burst and we have to fix it ourselves or I have to walk all out the other side for water. I call MTW to clear the road and they told me they are not sending anyone out here. I?don’t know what else to do.
MTW spokeswoman Avonda Scott told me that the ministry’s chief technical officer Frank Thornhill had promised that Vaughns Road will be addressed “in due course”.


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