Member of Parliament for North Leeward Roland “Patel” Matthews is blaming the Unity Labour Party government for the deaths of three of his constituents, which occurred when a car plunged over a cliff in Coulls Hill Sunday night.
Matthews, a member of the main opposition New Democratic Party, speaking on the party’s radio programme on Monday, pointed to a post he made on Facebook over a year ago highlighting the fact that the road where the accident occurred needed repair.
He also reminded listeners that he had raised the issue during the Budget Debate earlier this year.
Witnesses say that the car, PT505, went off the road at a section of the Leeward Highway where the retaining wall is damaged.
The car landed on another section of the highway in Troumaca Bottom, hundred of feet below.
George Johnson, 89, Venola Ollivierre (also known as Icylma Johnson), 65, and Denzil Johnson, 22, all of Spring Village died in the incident.
Two other persons, Kemral Williams, 24, said to be the driver of the vehicle, and Neville Charles, 45, have been hospitalised.
It was the second deadly incident in the area in just over a year.
A Vincentian who was visiting from overseas died when the vehicle in which she was travelling plunged over the same cliff.
Matthews quoted his April 9, 2014 post on Facebook in which he said:
“Since the December 2013 floods, the retaining walls at Couls Hill, en route to Tromouca, have been severely compromised. While there might be intention to reroute this road sometime in the future will the government please do some repairs to these walls as they pose a very serious threat to motorist and pedestrians alike? A vehicle has overturned in the said area and one life has been lost. Is the government waiting for another accident to happen before something is done?”
“I am not prophetic but I made that statement on Facebook over a year ago,” he said on the programme, noting that during the Budget Debate he again called for the government to repair the wall.
“Driving on that road on a regular basis, I know the fear that gets into people when they get to that point,” said Matthews, who lives in Petit Bordel, a community further north.
He said the top of the retaining wall in the area where the accident occurred was damaged by a landside during the severe weather of December 2013.
“The only thing that was done, I see they put up a caution tape when the first person died there. No effort was made to do anything to those walls,” he said, adding that he had heard talks about plans to re-route the road.
“… as I said in my post then and I want to repeat it now: Are we going to wait until another tragedy occurs again? I know that people will jump to say that I am being political. Well, I am being political because I am the Member of Parliament for North Leeward and I am making it my business to repeat what I said.
“And I will even go further. I am holding the government of this country responsible for the tragedy, because this road has been in this condition since 2013 during the storm and up to this day, nothing whatsoever has been put in place for people safety,” he said.
Matthews said people complain daily about the road.
“The Prime Minister frequents North Leeward for whatever reason and I am sure when he pass on that road he would see the condition of that place.
“And simply because building a retaining wall does not have any fanfare of opening, it does not have any fanfare when closing, because some person like to use these opportunities for political flamboyancy, for name calling and cuss out. So, because the nature of a retaining wall will not qualify for such political speeches, then I guess that is the reason why nothing was done to safeguard people,” he said.
Matthews said that it is for reasons like this that he says the constituency has been neglected by the government and accuses the government of doing things only for political mileage
“I am shaken up by this thing. I am shaken because as if I saw this danger coming. … I don’t want to sound prophetic, but I saw the day. Anyone who drove on that road will tell you it is one of the most fearsome coming into North Leeward is when they get to that point,” he said.
“… the government of the day is neglecting the constituency and that is a prime example. When you talk, people like to say you are getting too much, and everything is politics. Well this one, I take it personally because it is politics. That is how I put it is because it is a fact.
“You are finding money to do all kinds of seemeedimee (nonsense) things but here is a problem, a safety problem facing you and you are not finding the money or the time to deal with it,” Matthews said.
He said he is aware of the challenges in the constituency.
“I am not visiting North Leeward you know. I did not leave North Leeward, go into Kingstown to live and come back to North Leeward and want to represent you know. I’m North Leeward, I live North Leeward every day. I see, I understand what is taking place because I am living in North Leeward full time,” he said.
It’s my belief that the people who died at Rabacca did so because the government failed to put in the river defence and works as advised in reports almost every year for 13 years.
The Minister of Finance and his cousin the Minister of Works were on the distribution lists for those reports.
Stop that S***T talk, Is that all the sense you got, look if you cant write or add something constructive on this site, please get the hell off it, and stay off.
You figuring to be the almighty, so you can say why, and how people die, so
If this was there, then this won’t happen.
For as long as I know people are fighting a loosing battle trying out run, and out smart the roads in St. Vincent.
No bridge or defense as you call it, won’t stop the youth from speeding, and testing faith.
As C-Ben say’s ” law enforcement ” and penalties is what we need, not some bigoted one sided political S***T from you.
You are so blinded and consumed with envy and ignorance, that your life is one big empty hole, and everyone is fed up with you, for that shortsightedness.
You probably live some place beside St. Vincent, no river defense or wall will stop these reckless drivers, both cars and van, from driven recklessly.
I am not always in agreement with C-Ben, but you should read his article above.
Some thing tells me that you are in need of help, loneliness, I cannot solve, but start with re-education of yourself, or as Robert Nester Marley say’s , “extricate yourself from mental slavery ” or ” that donkey cart ” way of thinking.
sorry Rabacca should read BUCCAMENT
River defenses were in Chateaubelair and that did not stop the river. They were also at Spring Village, those too did not stop the river. We fall to realize that the a number of these places are located in river beds and water is a very funny thing. When it comes and it wants space to flow, it takes every and any thing it it’s wake. A number of those persons in the buccament area knew that they lands that they live on is a river bed. A number of them moved large river stones from their properties when they were constructing. River defence or not, if the river wanted to move it it could have and it would have.
1. Speed kills
2. Alcohol kills
3. Better roads result in speeding and a false sense of security; poor roads produce the latter
To blame the government is like arguing that the PM was driving the vehicle that went over the cliff.
I have travelled all over the Caribbean and can assert that we have the most reckless drivers and most poorly maintained vehicles I have ever seen.
We don’t need better roads; we need better law enforcement for drivers and vehicles.
I completely agree with Jonkuumba on the need for road signs. As someone who stays in Rose Hall when in SVG, I drive on this particular road to enter and leave the village. I have banned anyone from talking on this particular stretch, and spend most of the time with my hand on the horn. If there’s a vehicle that wants to overtake, well they have to do that around me or wait, I refuse to reverse the road is just to narrow.
Whilst two out of your numbered list is correct, the third is not. Some Leeward drivers are the same as all the other bad Vincentian drivers on the island, everyone seems to be in a rush to get somewhere and so drive as if they are experts.
We definitely need better law enforcement for drivers and vehicles, but we also need better roads (especially in North Leeward).
There’s no speed limit, bad driving is not addressed by those that should be doing so, in fact they are some of the worse offenders with their focus being on where not to park in Kingstown rather than the vehicles that are not road worthy.
There are some Vincy drivers need to be educated on how to drive with common sense, rather than seeing it as an outlet for aggression.
Let’s not make it a political blame game, because when somebody dies the colour of the shirt they wore during election is not what’s mourned.
Let me give you your props, well said, I agree with you totally.
Now , I hope you understand that ” donkey cart mentality ” I always elude to.
That poor excuse of a politician call ‘ Patel ” just point out that backwardness with some Vincentians, who call themselves politician, in this the Lord year 2015.
I don’t know how Vincentians could listen to these fools, we have to run the whole bunch of them out of town.
So C-ben we are partly friends today.
Jonkuumba Says: politicians + elections = Political issues. Sure it is good politics to blame the government for this and the wall should have been repaired. But there are dangerous cliffs like this one all over the leeward and other places in SVG and to re-route or build suitable barricades is in some cases virtually impossible or will take millions. I do not know how much it will take to place BOLD warning signs and arrows. such as SLOW DOWN Approaching Dangerous cliff.
Any time anything bad happens in SVG, the opposition blames the government. If the government is responsible for everything that is bad, this means the people have to look to the government to make everything good.
I find this to be a very frightening proposition because:
1. It denies free will, self determination and personal responsibility which, among other things, is the cornerstone of our Christian heritage and religion and the basis of a free and democratic society.
2. It suggests that the Opposition will want to rule with the same iron fist as the government, if elected. We keep hearing the expression “all a dem a de same” during election time. Patel Matthews comments say that this is true.
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