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'I wouldn't know who he is ...' - Political reps absenteeism peeves communities

Published:Saturday | September 27, 2014 | 9:00 AM

Karrie Williams, Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

Some community leaders in sections of the North West St James constituency are claiming their political representatives have been virtually absent and are calling on them to make their presence felt.

During her address at the monthly meeting of the Coral Gardens Citizens' Association last Saturday, the group's president, Merline Duhaney, said the community suffers from very poor political representation and that this has affected the neighbourhood's development.

"We need accountability," said Duhaney. "We need politicians to say something, but there's nobody you can talk to because no one takes responsibility ... , we don't see anybody in the community. I know that Mr (Charles) Sinclair is our councillor but if I didn't know that, I wouldn't know who he is ... . We don't see Dr (Horace) Chang at all ... . I don't know if Dr Chang represents St James or Kingston."

Community issues

The president said there were a number of issues affecting the community that needed urgent attention from the representatives. Among those she outlined were poor road conditions, inefficient water supply and squatters occupying vacant houses in the community, who are also using the fire hydrants to take their showers.

"We need the conditions of the roads to be discussed, we don't know when or if they have any intention of fixing any of the roads. All the roads in Coral Gardens are in a deplorable condition and nobody addresses them. The water problem is also constant and we have talked to the police numerous times about persons taking over unoccupied houses," she said.

Duhaney said several written and oral invitations have been sent to Chang and Montego Bay's mayor, Glendon Harris, to tour the community and to attend a monthly citizens' association meeting, however, both representatives have yet to accept those requests.

"Every one of them (political representatives) know that we have a meeting here on the third Saturday of every month, but I have never seen any of them come to pay us a visit, even when we call them and invite them.

"I usually call Mr Sinclair to invite him or send a letter and he would come if there is an issue we want to discuss with him, but never see the MP because he's never available, or anybody for him, so it's very difficult," she said. "We don't know who to turn to because I feel like it's a waste of time going to the parish council."

Poor communication

Lorriel Morris, president of the Green Pond United Citizens' Association, told Western Focus that he was concerned that none of the elected officials, including the member of parliament (MP), effectively communicate with residents and were not providing any adequate assistance to the community.

"We do see them at times, but to me they are doing their own thing," declared Morris. They are not communicating with the association, when it comes to communicating, they are very poor, and things that are supposed to be done are not done properly. Even with the cleaning of drains they just clean one part and leave the remainder.

"Green Pond is the only community where I haven't seen a back to school programme done. We received no assistance at all, whether from the councillor or our MP, and we have a problem too with the awarding of educational scholarships. When we submit names from the community, majority of them are denied, sometimes none of them get through," he continued.

Another community leader, who requested her name be withheld, also claimed the MP was missing in action.

"I live and work in Norwood and I can safely say that I have never seen Dr Chang inside the community. I don't know for how long since the elections, but it has been a very long time, he does not visit us, or if he does, I am not aware of it," she said.

When contacted by Western Focus, Dr Chang opted not to provide any response to the residents' claims, but maintains that he was very visible inside the communities mentioned.