Wed | May 24, 2017

Charles laments failure to bring development

Published:Friday | September 11, 2015 | 9:00 AM
Pearnel Charles

After serving three terms as member of parliament (MP) in North Central St Clarendon Pearnel Charles says that despite begging and pleading for assistance in his constituency, he has been unable to secure advancement for his people.

"I don't have any progress report because there is nothing that I can be proud of in terms of the social conditions of the people," Charles said as he contributed to the State of the Constituency Debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

Charles listed the absence of piped water and electricity in many of the communities in the constituency as being the most pressing problems facing North Central Clarendon.

"I am embarrassed that I have to preside and call myself the MP in these kind of conditions," Charles said while saying he hopes his contribution can assist him in getting assistance for his people.

According to Charles, the debate affords him the opportunity to "expose that there is a problem with water and electricity [and] it affects education, the only hope for the people in my constituency".

Drought worries

In relation to water, Charles said that the current drought has exacerbated the problems for the people of the community who rely on surface water sources for both irrigation and domestic purposes. He said, too, that schools have been hard-hit.

"We have 43 schools in my constituency, and from the 43 schools, only 20 of those schools have water from the National Water Commission. The rest is black tanks and other containers, and when the water runs out, school runs out," Charles said.

"Forty-three schools, 20 with water, 29 without running water, and most of them have flush toilets," he said to the amusement of members of the House who said he had a mathematics problem.

Charles, however, countered saying, "The easiest thing for you to do is to laugh!"

"It is not a laughing matter," he added.

Additionally, sceptical that 95 per cent of the country is covered with electricity, Charles said that more than a dozen communities in his constituency were still waiting to be able to switch on power in their homes.

"There are 17 districts that have no electricity at all. Nuh wire nuh run deh," said Charles, who has represented the constituency since 2002.

"All the beg we begging, and I hear the minister say 80 or 90 per cent of the island has electricity. I would like to know if him don't measure mine. I am in North Central Clarendon and I have given the ministry all the districts for him to help us. We don't have water, we don't have electricity," Charles said.

Phillip Paulwell, the energy minister, has said that Jamaica is to be almost darkness-free by 2017.

"We expect that, by 2017, some 99.99 per cent of the country will be covered," Paulwell told The Gleaner earlier this year.

The Government has allocated $374.7 million in this 2015-2016 Budget for the rural electrification programme to carry out its functions. The target includes the construction of 30 kilometres of pole line extensions in 10 parishes and the wiring of 1,000 houses to facilitate formal contracts with the Jamaica Public Service Company.

Meanwhile, Charles continues to lament the absence of piped water in most of his constituency. He said that only 40 per cent of the people have access to piped water.