Sun | Aug 20, 2017

I've done lots for Western Westmoreland

Published:Monday | February 8, 2016 | 2:00 AM
Wykeham McNeill
Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Dr Wykeham McNeill (centre), is flanked by acting assistant commissioner for Area One, Gary Griffiths (left), and mayor of Savanna-la-Mar, Councillor Bertel Moore. The motorcycles were donated by the Tourism Enhancement Fund to enable the police to be more effective in their patrol of the resort town.
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I write in reference to the unsigned letter published in The Gleaner of February 3, 2016, in which concerns were raised about the issue of an ambulance in Negril, as well as crime in Westmoreland.

I feel it's important at this time to address these matters.

First, in terms of the ambulance; one was donated some years ago by the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) for use at the Negril, Health Centre. Unfortunately, it was involved in an accident a few months ago. Funding has been approved for the purchase of a new ambulance pending proper procedures being put in place to ensure better care of the vehicle.

On the matter of crime, I, like all well-thinking Jamaicans, am deeply concerned about this issue. Ironically, on the day that the letter was published, I was in Negril with the minister of national security handing over the newly refurbished Negril Police Station.

The refurbishing of this facility was funded by the TEF. The project was completed at a cost of $40 million, $10 million below estimate because of the considerable help in its construction from of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).

This will make for far better conditions in which our valiant members of the constabulary force can operate. This is just one example of the close partnership my ministry has forged with the Ministry of National Security in support of our national effort against crime.

Over the last four years, the TEF has allocated half a billion dollars to the JCF. These funds have assisted the force with purchasing cars and motorcycles, CCTV cameras, as well as support for the marine police and many other areas.

Also in partnership with the national security ministry, the TEF has contributed $20 million for a new pilot social intervention project in the parish of Westmoreland. The objective is to promote community building, and provide training in social behaviour and parenting skills, as well as remedial education and a sports programme.

With regards to other achievements in my constituency, I am pleased to say that during this term, despite serious fiscal constraints, I have been able to address the state of the Sheffield to Negril main road which, during the past administration, was a source of great controversy and contention. This road, among a number of others throughout the parish, has been part of the most extensive road-building and upgrading programme that we have seen in the parish in recent memory.

Of my accomplishments in the constituency, the one of which I am most proud is what we have done in the field of education. Working along with my education foundation, the education officer, principals and teachers, we have made tremendous strides in advancing the quality of education in my constituency. Our GSAT and literacy programmes have been huge successes, and we have seen our students receiving two of the four national scholarships accorded to our region and achieving first and second places in the Spelling Bee in my parish.

On a national level, as minister of tourism, the work that I have done at my ministry, which has facilitated Jamaica in achieving unprecedented levels of construction investment in new rooms and which will provide thousands of jobs for Jamaicans, is something about which I feel particularly proud.

In closing, I hope that I have been able to clarify concerns raised, and I thank the writer for affording me this opportunity to report on the matters raised and look forward to working even harder to address the challenges faced my constituents and indeed all Jamaicans.

- K. Wykeham McNeill is member of parliament of Western Westmoreland and minister of tourism. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.