Sat | May 25, 2019

St Thomas demands better roads

Published:Saturday | November 10, 2018 | 12:00 AM


We must not only theoretically include rural people in our lofty developmental goals but we must be practical about it.

I am a native of St Thomas and I have felt the constrictive impact of living in rural Jamaica. The truth is, our rural parishes lack the employment or earning opportunities that people need to break the cycle of poverty.

I assume that there are investors who have rural Jamaica on their radar, but there are many obstacles. For one, our road networks are subpar, which creates a challenge for industries such as manufacturing.

For many decades, St Thomas has been a major producer of the island's milk, sugar and natural resources such as sand and gravel for construction. Recently, to my dismay, one of the few sources of employment in St Thomas, Seprod Limited, downsized production at Serge Island Dairy Farm and is planning to pull the plug on sugar production in Golden Grove.

Although one must contend with the fact that other structural and internal issues may have been the catalyst to rethink investment, we must not deny the role that the terrible roads in St Thomas played. There must have been increased expenditure for the company to transport its products to Kingston. The road from Morant Bay to Seaforth, where the Serge Island Dairy Farm is located, has been in dire need of repairs for many years. The road network leading from Morant Bay to Kingston is in an even worse condition.

Trucks are often unable to handle the journey, and on any day, we might pass two or more broken-down trucks on our way to Kingston. These are added costs for manufacturers, and one must admit that in the game of capitalism profits are paramount.

I plead with our Government to fast-track a better road network to the rural parts of rural Jamaica. This will undoubtedly increase developmental opportunities.