Sun | May 28, 2017

In Portmore, we'll be voting on issues

Published:Saturday | September 26, 2015 | 9:01 AMHoward Hamilton, Contributor

We ready! We ready! The nation has been placed on election mode and the prime minister is ready. One senior party official states that this election must be about issues. As a resident and civic leader of the Municipality of Portmore, I welcome the election, and I also welcome the fact that it will be about issues. Sentiments and feel-good politics will not do any longer. I intend to vote on the issues facing Portmore, and if I cannot find a political party to vote for, then I will deliberately spoil my ballot to show that I am fed up of the way the community is being treated by both political parties. I will encourage others to do the same and send a message to all and sundry that things must change. The uncommitted electorate must take part in the ongoing enumeration process and register their disgust at the polls. If the prime minister is ready, let us also be ready. Our issues are many and must be dealt with in the upcoming election.

Some of the issues facing the Portmore community are:

1) Portmore boundaries regularisation;

2) Gazzetting of roads and infrastructural support from Highway 2000;

3) Access to health care.

PORTMORE BOUNDARIES REGULARISATION

Contrary to what the prime minister is saying, until the untidy issue of the Portmore boundaries is sorted out, the municipality cannot be deemed ready. We cannot go into another election with the electorate being asked to vote using irregular boundaries thus leaving communities such as Caribbean Estate, Morris Meadows, Country Club II, Clifton, Lime Tree Grove, Lakes Pen, etc, without proper representation. This intolerable act is due the governing party and its political representatives taking the electorate for granted.

Gazzetting of roads and infrastructure support from Highway 2000

When the toll road was being forced upon Portmore, it was hailed as the largest piece of infrastructural development ever in the community. We were told that the "development of roads is the road to development". However, when the Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme was approached to repair main roads within the community, we were told that it could not be done as the roads were not gazzetted.

Both the Government and the municipal council have made no move whatsoever to regularise the roadways of Portmore. The only major road repair that has taken place thus far is that done on the George Lee Boulevard, and to the dismay of the entire community, the little stretch on Dawkins Drive that leads to the Highway 2000 remains in a deplorable state. What would it have cost the highway operators or the contractors to repair that bit of roadway?

The operators of Highway 2000 benefit tremendously from the community of Portmore, which houses the largest toll plaza outside of North America. The Portmore community derives no benefit from this piece of infrastructure. This must be clear in the minds of the electorate as we will continue to get nothing unless we have proper representation. I have long maintained that the operators of Highway 2000 must give support to our overwhelmed infrastructure.

Access to health care

The issue of the establishment of a hospital in Portmore has been debated so many times that most by now have given up on this becoming a reality. The solution in the short term must be to upgrade the Greater Portmore and Christian Pen health centres to what is known as type V facilities, while examining ways to extend the opening hours so that the average person can access health care. This is an issue that we must put to the forefront of elections issues. We are ready to discuss this.

We are ready to have our say in an election that concerns issues of good governance; issues that are in keeping with the democratic processes. To be ready, we must all register to vote and vote on the issues that affect us. Will you be ready?

- Howard D. Hamilton, JP, is immediate past chairman of the Greater Portmore Joint Council. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.