Negril is crying out for attention – Donavan Reynolds
Donavan Reynolds, the newly installed Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) candidate for Western Westmoreland, has joined the growing list of stakeholders calling for specialised attention to be given to the resort town of Negril, which is seemingly falling short in the delivery of social services.
Among the situations Reynolds finds troubling is the limited capacity of the Negril police, especially at a time when the peace and tranquility, which was once a defining feature of the town, is being threatened by an escalating crime problem.
"The Negril Police are being inundated with emergency requests, but despite their best efforts, they have been operating below capacity due to a lack of sufficient police to man the Negril area," said Reynolds, a former policeman, who once served in Negril.
"The police station was built to house over 100 police officers, but is now being manned by about 70 police officers," said Reynolds. "A check with the police administration revealed that it will need another 130 police officers to man the area effectively."
The Negril Health Centre, which takes on special significance in the absence of a major trauma centre in the town, is another area that Reynolds thinks is deserving of some much-needed attention in regards to upgrading.
"The Negril Health Centre needs urgent upgrading and is lagging behind in terms of responding to the emergency needs of the community," noted Reynolds, who is also a London-trained social worker and attorney-at-law. " There is a long overdue plan to upgrade the clinic to a 24 hours emergency response centre, but those plans have been shelved, leaving the staff to work in challenging conditions that are not conducive to their personal health and safety."
"It is known, for example, that the building is unsightly and only has one entrance and exit door," added Reynolds.
Reynolds said the fact that Negril, as a premier resort town that is catering to thousands of visitors annually, is operating without an ambulance is shameful.
"... the clinic does not have an ambulance available to them ... . All serious accidents and emergency matters have to be dealt with at the Savannah-la-Mar General Hospital, which is 20 miles away," said Reynolds.
With craft being an essential component of Negril's offering to visitors to the popular tourist destination, Reynolds wants to see that facility upgraded from its current dilapidated state.
"The Negril Craft Market is in a dilapidated state and needs an urgent refurbishing. Dr Wykeham McNeill, the member of parliament, is the Minister of Tourism," said Reynolds. "He has access to the TPDCO funds, so it is quite puzzling that he has not sought to access funds to refurbish the craft market.
"Its current unsightliness is underwhelming and not deserving of its current condition, especially when you take into consideration that Negril is the third leading tourist resort on the island," noted Reynolds.
Reynolds also expressed some amount of dissatisfaction with the high level of unemployment in the resort town and questioned why there are no facilities to offer skills training to residents.
"Unemployment is a major problem due to a lack of facilities such as a skills-training centre and other educational institutions to qualify residents for job opportunities in the town," said Reynold."As a result, persons outside of the constituency who have the skills match are in a better position to grasp most the job opportunities on offer."