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Forgotten St Thomas harbours high hopes

Published:Friday | April 3, 2015 | 4:03 PM

Forgotten St Thomas harbours high hopes

Robert Ritchie

bobritchie123@comcast.net

It is refreshing to see the media place some focus on the parish of St Thomas. Your recent articles regarding the St Thomas Parish Council's concerns about the parish's capital, Morant Bay, being in desperate want of infrastructure repairs, and the need for creating the environment to expand business opportunities, come as a welcome proposition.

St Thomas is called the 'forgotten parish' by many of its own. This label does not come without qualification, as St Thomas is one of the poorest parishes in Jamaica. It no longer provides the job opportunities it did for its citizens, although it once boasted the many manufacturing and production factories and plants in Jamaica. The now-defunct Goodyear tyre factory, which supplied Jamaica with its products, along with exporting quality tyres, is a prime example, along with the numerous manufacturers that have also closed their doors, costing thousands of St Thomas residents their livelihoods and a ripple effect which has devastated the local economy.

There are a few things the parish council can take into consideration that can help to create new jobs and revenue. The roads, bridges and overall infrastructure throughout the parish are in deplorable condition and need immediate attention.

Possible relocation

The vending market, currently located in the centre of Morant Bay's business hub, could be relocated to unused acreage of land situated in an area known as Wharf Road, in Morant Bay. The relocation could provide an upgraded marketplace with proper vending space, sanitary facilities, a modern slaughterhouse with refrigeration capability for the butchers, and a building design that meets the demands of Jamaica's weather conditions.

The relocation of the market will dramatically ease traffic congestion. It can be a provider of new revenue for the parish through renting new vending spaces, as well as creating new businesses for current and future vendors. This relocation can also provide an expansion of the parking area for the current transportation centre, as it would be adjacent to the new vendor's market. This would also be a new revenue source.

The current market location could then be transformed into a new office building, with a new car park and retail establishment outlets, which is desperately needed. This redesigned area can provide additional revenue and business opportunities, which, in turn, create new jobs.

An additional revenue- and job-creating source is transforming the old courthouse into a history museum. St Thomas' history is rich. It is at the heart of Jamaica's history and deserves to be preserved for our children, and generations to come. The remnants from the fire that destroyed the courthouse several years ago can be rebuilt to house what can be revered as a historical site.

The parish and people of St Thomas are worthy of this type of investment. All of these ideas need money for their implementation, but in every aspect of this suggested renewal of St. Thomas and Morant Bay, it offers a revenue source to sustain itself and creates opportunities for commerce, new business and new jobs.