Mon | May 29, 2017

Big plans for ‘Busta’s’ birthplace

Published:Sunday | February 26, 2017 | 2:00 AMClaudia Gardner
The picture of a little girl walking along the bad road that leads to Blenheim, the birthplace of National Hero, Sir Alexander Bustamante helped to spur Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie into action.
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WESTERN BUREAU:

The road to the birthplace of National Hero Sir Alexander Bustamante is to get well-needed repairs.

Days after The Sunday Gleaner highlighted the deplorable state of the road in Blenheim, Hanover, Minister of Local Government and Community Development Desmond McKenzie announced that he has put measures in place to immediately commence major rehabilitation work on the roadway.

McKenzie has also announced that the community centre in Blenheim, which has remained closed for the entire 17 years since it was constructed, will also be rehabilitated.

Addressing the celebration of the 133rd anniversary of the birth of Bustamante last Friday, McKenzie said his decision to ensure that road is repaired was made after reading reports in The Gleaner, which highlighted residents' complaints about the community centre and the poor road conditions.

"I read with dismay ... the condition of a community centre in this community, a stone's throw away from the birthplace of Sir Alexander. I read with dismay the concerns of the community that the only time attention is paid to this community is when the celebration of the birthday of Sir Alexander comes around.

"This should never be, because if Hanover didn't produce Bustamante, we would not be here today. Bustamante was the forerunner of our freedom to become an independent nation," said McKenzie.

"The time of patching is over and done with. The Ministry of Local Government will be providing $20 million to commence work on this road leading to Bustamante's birthplace. And I am giving a commitment to the community that when we celebrate Labour Day 2017, this road will reflect what Sir Alexander Bustamante deserves," added McKenzie.

 

Scope of work

 

According to McKenzie, the scope of the Blenheim road work is to include resurfacing and the construction of adequate run-offs for surface water.

McKenzie noted that the community centre in the Hanover community was built in early 2000 and residents have been begging to have something done with it.

"It has been left idle, goat, cow occupy a building that could benefit the residents of this community. The Ministry of Local Government, through the Social Development Commission, will undertake the restoration of that community centre and equip it for the betterment of the people of this district ... and this is not a promise.

"What Busta has done for us as a nation, we deserve to do much more for this great, outstanding Jamaican," said McKenzie before touring the community centre with representatives of the Hanover Parish Council.

"I have instructed the Hanover Municipal Corporation along with the technical officers of the Ministry of Local Government to immediately start an estimate of this facility, and we are going to provide the money to renovate it.

"We are going to engage the community as to what the community thinks is best for them. I understand that there are a number of agricultural products around here that could be useful in this facility," he explained.

 

Residents' concerns

 

The local government minister also noted the concerns of the residents about the absence of potable water in the Blenheim community and indicated that he has instructed the municipal corporation to ensure that adequate water is trucked to the area.

"But the question needs to be asked - and I am not being political - where is the political representative for the area? An area like, this where Sir Alexander is from, people shouldn't be living in this kind of condition. So, it means that there has been a lack of representation, both at the level of central government and at the level of local government, and this is totally unacceptable!" he added.

"You have visitors coming here to visit the birthplace of Sir Alexander Bustamante. They shouldn't just have to visit and see just where Sir Alexander was born looking good. That doesn't speak good for the community and I am really disappointed; really disappointed, and whatever the ministry can do, whatever the ministry has responsibility for, we are going to undertake," vowed McKenzie.

claudia.gardner@gleanerjm.com