Yes, clean up Rockfort, Mountain View
We support and encourage Shahine Robinson's vigilance over any, and all, government expenditure, although we cannot agree with her seeming reflexive rejection of the administration's plan to upgrade and beautify the route from the Norman Manley Airport on the Palisadoes tombolo at the eastern end of the Kingston Harbour up to and along Mountain View Avenue, which traverses several troubled communities.
What we instinctively object to is Tourism Minister Wykeham McNeill's designation of what is planned for the route as an elegant corridor, as though decent sidewalks and clipped verges and, hopefully, roads that are not strewn with garbage, should be something outside the normal expectations of Jamaicans and reserved for tourists. This is what roads should be in all communities.
Indeed, even people with only a passing appreciation of our views are likely to be aware of our consistent advocacy for the Government to do the small things, and get them right - especially those associated with the physical state of communities. Collecting garbage, cleaning drains and cutting verges - we call to be done.
Our view is that if communities are clean and relatively well-kept, their residents will not only feel better about where they live, but about themselves, and are less likely to engage in antisocial behaviour. Which means less crime and a better environment for investment, job creation and economic growth. It is part of a virtuous circle towards community and national wealth.
There are many roads and communities in the Jamaican capital in dire need of this kind of attention, including the stretch in Rockfort, in the constituency of East Kingston, and Mountain View Avenue in South East St Andrew. But this stretch has the added significance that it is an important route to and from the Norman Manley International Airport, the one used by most Jamaicans and many visitors to the island. It helps to form an enduring image to visitors to Jamaica who arrive via Kingston.
Ms Robinson, however, is suspicious that something politically sinister is afoot, to the benefit of the governing party, because of the plan to use the resources of the Tourism Enhancement Fund. She notes there is an alternative route from the airport, along the Michael Manley Boulevard, that avoids Rockfort and Mountain View, which is recommended for use by tourists.
Further, she says, there is nothing to guarantee there will be no flare-up in the volatile communities in this area, especially along Mountain View Avenue, that will assure the safety of visitors to Jamaica.
This newspaper agrees that there is much work to be done in Rockfort, Mountain View and many other communities in Kingston and across Jamaica to ensure the social stability that citizens deserve, including robustly accelerated efforts at dismantling the zones of political exclusions that Jamaicans refer to as garrisons. In this regard, Phillip Paulwell and Julian Robinson, the members of parliament for the respective constituencies, have much work to do.
State action such as proposed will add to this process, even as it adds legitimate value to the experience of visitors to Jamaica. In fact, we have often wondered when our politicians travel abroad and return to Jamaica, and drive through Rockfort and Mountain View, if they are not ashamed of the ramshackle conditions over which they preside at home.