Sandy Ground main road breakaway a haven for criminals, say residents

RESIDENTS of Sandy Ground in St Catherine say a breakaway on a section of the community’s main road is now being used as a hideout for criminals. The road, said the residents, has been damaged for 11 years.

Pointing to an incident on Saturday, April, 3, in which police allegedly engaged two men in a gunfight in Sandy Ground as cops attempted to apprehend them for being in possession of a stolen motor vehicle belonging to Clarendon teacher at the Four Paths Primary and Junior High School, Natalie Dawkins, who has been missing since March 30, residents said such activities only started occurring once criminals realised the breakaway provided a safe haven for them. One of the two men, 20-year-old Jeff Bedward, was shot and killed during the incident. The other man escaped, but police later arrested a 23-year-old brother of the deceased and two other men in relation to the teacher’s disappearance.

“It is right here where the incident took place pertaining to the police, the gunman and the stolen car,” said a resident, pointing to the area where the incident took place. “The shoot-out was just above the breakaway [and] the stolen car was found just above.”

“We need something to be done to this road. This is the second time that criminals escape from the police and it is because of this road here,” added the resident.

“In an incident some time ago the police and the gunmen ‘met up’ and because there is no way to come this side for the police, the gunman escape on this route. The police would have to go all the way around Bellfield and come back around. By then dem gone,” one man lamented, calling for urgent action from the authorities to have the road fixed.

Devon Wilks, president of the Community Development Committee said it would be unfortunate to know that the thoroughfare isn’t fixed until a motorist dies after running off the steep alternative road that was created above the Sandy Ground Main Road.

He lamented that taxi operators have received hard hits to their pockets, having to traverse the alternative route, which residents said was once just a dirt track and therefore doesn’t have a name. Wilks appealed to the Government to revive plans to fix the main road.

“I know that whenever there is death, that’s the time they pay attention. Car run off the top road already and run in people back yard. The alternative route is very steep. Taxi men are crying out because dem affi change parts almost every month.

“To take that piece of hill is very tiresome. It is when someone is hurt on it, they are going to pay attention. I hope that won’t happen. They say it cost $300 million and promised to fix it, but when? The Member of Parliament wants to fix it and says he is going to fix it, but I believe if that road wasn’t like that, some of the things that happen wouldn’t happen, like the activity the other day. The route would be used, so people wouldn’t have the time to lurk. Right now it is a hiding spot,” said Wilks.

Wilks corroborated other residents’ claims that the breakaway facilitates criminals escaping easily when police attempt to catch up to them.

“In an incident before this, they spot some guys and a chase ensued. One of the guys sped out and jump over the ‘bruk weh’ and gone. Dem catch one of the guys though. I am appealing to the powers that be to set up something.”

Alfred Brown, a taxi operator who uses the alternative route, said he would much prefer the old route being repaired, because he and his colleagues have to spend on gas more often than before.

“Fi taxi man it hard. Fi come up pon di hill yah a pure gas. Nuff man nuh worry come over. Dem stop halfway. Di car dem can hardly go up. It cost $200 from Old Harbour to come up here suh. Di fare thing nuh set good. We woulda like di road fix,” he said.

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