On the road to prosperity
The following is an excerpt from Member of Parliament for South West St Elizabeth Floyd Green's maiden contribution to the State of the Constituency Debate in Gordon House:
During my over-two-year sojourn with the people of South West St Elizabeth, as the Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP's) representative I was able to glean their needs and desires and some of the fundamental issues that have plagued their communities. From their experiences, suggestions, and my own research, I produced a development plan that forms the basis of this presentation.
WATER FOR PROSPERITY
More than half of our population is without potable water. Communities like Stonefield, Arlington, Vineyard and many others have never seen water run through their pipes. In the areas where there is in fact a potable water supply, the pipes are antiquated, subject to frequent breaks and often undersized.
The fact is that the National Water Commission (NWC) is under-resourced and must be better managed to address some of our pressing water issues. The Sandy Ground to Black River pipeline must be changed; the pipeline from Luana to Middle Quarters, also needs to be addressed and the pump at the Middle Quarters pump station replaced. Thankfully, the minister with responsibility for water, Dr Horace Chang, has indicated that these are priorities.
That treats with potable water, but there is a larger issue relating to water for farming: South West St Elizabeth is home to the most registered farmers in the country. Over the past few years, because of extensive droughts and the absence of an irrigation supply, our farmers have suffered. We have the skill, experience and young people who want to go into farming. But, we need water. I have had a series of meetings with private-ector interests, international partners, community members, and representatives from the National Irrigation Commission.
As a Government, we have started on the right note in South West relating to water. In keeping with a project which commenced in 2008, we were able to break ground on July 16 for the installation of 4.6 kilometres of pipe from Hunslow to Newell, which will increase the flow of water into areas like Bethany, Hunslow, Newell, Williamsfield, Treasure Beach and Barbary Hall. Additionally, a technical team is slated to visit some of our areas without water over the next few weeks so we can reassess the plans to bring water to those areas.
ROADS FOR PROSPERITY
Over the past two decades, the road network of South West has significantly deteriorated. Almost all of our main thoroughfares are in need of complete resurfacing - Pedro cross to Black River, Fullers Wood to Mountainside, Mountainside to Knoxwood, Black River to Sandy ground, Giddy Hall to Prospect, our roads through Treasure Beach, Fort Charles and Parottee. This is how I have found it, but not how I will leave it.
I thank the minister of works, Everald Warminington, as we have already brought renewed hope to a number of communities with more slated to benefit shortly. The Housing, Opportunity, Prosperity and Employment programme has already seen three roads earmarked for work, with more on the horizon.
EDUCATION FOR PROSPERITY
Education remains the only real engine for personal and economic growth. In South West St Elizabeth, we have 43 early-childhood institutions, 17 primary schools, two prep schools and two high schools. I have channelled $6.5million of my Constituency Development Fund to help students along their educational path and to help schools deal with some of their infrastructure needs. With the allocation, we have been able to incentivise performance at the primary level by awarding the top GSAT boy and girl from each primary school and the top teacher. We have also been able to assist with books for over 500 students and financial support for 70 students at the tertiary level.
I am paying special attention to early-childhood education. We established the Right from Start Foundation, and I am excited about the partnership that has been forged by Do Good Jamaica and the Breds Foundation, which aims to bring 14 early-childhood institutions to the level of certification with the Early-Childhood Commission over the next year.
South West St Elizabeth will lead the early-childhood revolution.
HEALTH FOR PROSPERITY
The Black River Hospital remains a source of concern. Over the time I have been MP, I have been able to sit with the management team of the hospital and asses the development plan. Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton has also toured the hospital and met with the management team. Twenty-five beds have been earmarked to be provided for the hospital, and a lift is to be installed. A temporary outpatient solution has been completed and is to be launched shortly, which will provide more space in the Accident and Emergency Department.
ECONOMIC ACTIVITY FOR PROSPERITY
When the best farmers have the water and go out to farm, the yield is great, and as such, the problem of sufficient markets comes into play. As MP, I will drive the push for an investment in agro-processing. GraceKennedy has already set the trend with the agro-processing and packaging plant at Hunslow and has done extremely well. I invite more companies to look in the direction of South West St Elizabeth.
We also have the best community tourism product in the Caribbean. South West is poised to give Jamaica the experiential edge for which the millennial visitor is searching. We aim to be the Mecca of community tourism and sustainable development. With the right infrastructure and support we will expand that industry and put our people to work. We, will revive the capital through undertaking a project of storyboards looking at our rich history. We have already started the discussion with the minister of transport to establish an aerodrome in South West St Elizabeth, which will directly tie in to our niche market and our community tourism product.