Wed | Oct 21, 2020

Francis reprises role as PNP combatant vs Robertson

Published:Wednesday | August 26, 2020 | 12:14 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
James Robertson.
James Robertson.

Candidate for the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) in the constituency of St Thomas Western, James Robertson, is seeking a fourth consecutive hold as its member of parliament, and he simply cannot be any more confident.

Reeling off a long list of accomplishments and infrastructural works, some already started and others in the pipeline, Robertson seems certain of a fine victory over the People’s National Party (PNP) candidate, Marsha Francis.

The flamboyant Robertson in 2016 squeaked past Francis by the small margin of 381 votes, with just over 50 per cent of the votes.

Francis was parachuted back into the seat by the PNP over the past month after school principal Mark Malabver pulled out of the race.

Putting his chances into perspective, Robertson told The Gleaner that the constituency and the parish, in particular, have been supportive of the JLP over the years despite it being classified several times as the poorest in the country.

“St Thomas Western never had the capital and it certainly never had the infrastructure that the east had in terms of the efforts from sugar and banana. We only had, in the hills, coffee. So West St Thomas, based on infrastructure, is the poorest constituency in Jamaica. I won’t argue that point” Robertson said.

The big plus for himself and the JLP, Robertson noted, is that in 18 years they can now boast that it is the first time in the history of St Thomas, and the east, that they now have a fair share of the tax spend.

He was speaking of the section of the $12.9-billion South Coast Highway Improvement Project that is being undertaken by China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC).

It will entail the rehabilitation of approximately 110 kilometres of roadway between Harbour View in St Andrew and Port Antonio in Portland, and the 26-kilometre thoroughfare from Morant Bay to Cedar Valley in St Thomas.

“From Harbour View, (there will be) the double bridge all the way to Yallahs, a four-lane highway under construction. You can see it at Eight Miles being built. From there to where we are, from Yallahs to Lowden Hill through Whitehorses to Morant Bay, $2.7 billion of contract has been signed and ready to roll out.

“Morant Bay, taking into account York, Seaforth, Trinityville and its many districts right into Cedar Valley, you are talking about three and a half divisions now receiving billions of dollars of new roads,” said Robertson, adding, “We never had that before, certainly not since Independence.”

He boasted that it is the first time that they have put jobs (4,000 for young people) along with the massive spend in people’s mind, stating that the JLP administration of Andrew Holness has delivered in a big way for the people of St Thomas Western.

Though he has been relatively quiet over the past two years or so, Robertson said its a strategy he employed which is now paying off handsomely, even joking that Francis will have to come good to beat him.

“West St Thomas with James Robertson as MP, for the elderly, the working-age group, and the young people in education and jobs have the greatest future and I am proud to be seeking the people’s vote again,” he said.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com