Water shortage among issues undermining growth
The lack of a consistent water supply, the absence of a local chamber of commerce, and the need for a structured collection agency are among the factors said to be creating a barrier to potential investment and growth in Junction, St Elizabeth.
Speaking at last week Thursday's Gleaner, 'Job Creation, Investment and Growth Forum' in Junction, Richard Parchment, the member of parliament for South East St Elizabeth; and Shaun Nembhard, the commercial services manager at the St Elizabeth Parish Council, both agreed that the lack of water was a major obstacle in the quest to attract investment.
"One of the failures for Junction is the lack of a reliable water system. It has resulted in businesspeople and householders paying enormous amounts of money over the years to truck water," said Parchment.
"Trucking water is 10 times as expensive as the water that comes out of the pipe. In order for a business to be successful in Junction, you have to be more efficient than other areas because of the expenditure on water," added Parchment.
Nembhard agreed with Parchment that the lack of a proper water supply scheme was stonewalling Junction's capacity for growth.
"The water situation hinders Junction from being further developed. We see where fast-food chains were unable to come into Junction because of the lack of a water supply," said Nembhard. "But that is being addressed and we hope that that situation will soon be a thing of the past."
Concerning other inhibitors to development in Junction, Parchment told the forum that a chamber of commerce was badly needed in Junction, as, according to him, the business community needs structured support in the making of proper plans for local development.
"We have tried over a very long time to get a local chamber of commerce going. It is one of the hardest places to get business people with common interests to sit down, to come and work together for their own development. The faces that come out are few, and it is the same faces every time," noted Parchment. "In Junction, the people have grown up so independent that they don't understand that, in working together, there can be a common good."
Nembhard also noted that the lack of a collection centre in Junction was causing the area to lose revenue that could be earned from the processing of motor vehicle licences.
"We realise there is a collection centre that is needed in the Junction area, as persons who have to license motor vehicles have to travel to Mandeville, Santa Cruz or Black River, and when they do that, we lose that revenue, which assists in the Road Maintenance Fund," said Nembhard.
"We have started a temporary collection agency at the market, where we come in once every week and collect various services for the Parish Council. What we want to do is start the process and show the finance ministry that the opportunity is there and people are calling for the services," added Nembhard.