Tue | Oct 23, 2018

Jaevion Nelson | A taxi man's mandate to PM

Published:Monday | September 10, 2018 | 12:00 AM

Andrew Holness, as the first of the post-Independence generation to lead Jamaica, has an opportunity to truly position himself as a transformational leader that he cannot squander. He has the daunting responsibility of renewing our hope in our potential as a country, and the possibilities that exist for us and causing us to take pride in Jamaica.

A couple of weeks ago, in a conversation with the driver of the taxi I was in on my way home, he shared that he has not voted in the last two general and local government elections. He was knowledgeable and particularly impressive. In the chat, he shared that he attends the party conferences, so he is aware of their promises and plans and can, for himself, determine how well they are performing.

Consequently, as one can imagine, and as is the case with so many of us, he has grown weary of the poor performance of the parties because there are more lofty promises than actual earnest effort to walk the talk. He referred to himself as a 'showpow' because he doesn't vote for the People's National Party or Jamaica Labour Party, but was quick to offer some suggestions that, if pursued by Prime Minister Andrew Holness, would motivate him to vote in the next election.

I was intrigued by his recommendations which included:

1 Making education truly free so that those from poor families could have full and equal access to education.

2 Improving the conditions at clinics/health centres across the country and ensuring that each of them has at least three doctors who are properly paid and taken care of (so fewer of them are inclined to seek work overseas).

3 Putting prisoners to work in special projects that would, for example, allow them to help in cleaning up the country. The pay for such work, he said, should be given to their children, if they have, so they can go to school to get an education.

These recommendations are sound. I, too, believe that these recommendations could renew confidence in the political system and demonstrate the Government's commitment to improving our lives.

This is particularly important when one considers the fact that though Prime Minister Holness' leadership excites many of us, the last RJRGLEANER Don Anderson poll, which was conducted in February, found that only a third of Jamaicans rated his performance as good.

 

CONNECTING WITH THE PEOPLE

 

The prime minister has a bit of work to do to change these feelings and perceptions among people. I know quite a lot of people are intrigued by his leadership style and the plethora of development projects - including the legacy road projects that are under way across the country, despite the inconvenience some of them may cause.

He'll need to talk to, and connect with, the public again, in a way that he has not done before. Beyond the road projects, I like to think that a big part of Holness' transformation occurred after the much-talked-about travel on the buses across the capital city (which Comrades chastised him for doing). But if we are honest, there is no better way to hear from the people and understand them than to passively or actively participate in discussions on a ride on a bus or taxi and in barber shops, hairdresser salons, and in bars.

It is in all our interest that Holness succeeds as prime minister. His failure would be our failure and to the detriment of all of us.

- Jaevion is a human-rights, economic and social justice and inclusive development advocate.

Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and jaevion@gmail.com.