RURAL EXPRESS - Still no post office; Newport residents say they feel neglected
Tamara Bailey, Gleaner Writer
With close to eight months since residents of Newport and adjoining communities lost their post office in a fire, the pleas of those crying neglect are becoming louder.
Chair for the Newport Consultative Committee, Elrett Gooden, says the community can no longer do without this basic amenity and need the help and support of the relevant authorities.
"We are inconvenienced here. Some persons have to walk about six miles to the Knockpatrick Post Office which now serves us, or pay up to $200 by taxi to and from the post office."
She added, "The alternative area is not conducive either as the Knockpatrick Post Office is located at a corner. It's hard, especially for the elderly persons to dash across the street, as it's a busy area and when persons go to cash their pensions on a Thursday, there's hardly any parking space ... It's really hard."
According to Gooden, the Newport Post Office which served approximately 18 communities, has seen a total of $1.9 million being spent on renovations and should not be left as is.
"After Hurricane Ivan, the member of parliament (MP) for the area, Michael Peart, helped to secure $1.4 million for its repair. Two years and six months later, after its opening, it was broken into and another $500,000 was spent. While we were awaiting the reopening, we received word on December 30 that the post office was burnt out."
In an effort to move forward with plans for yet another renovation project, Gooden said a meeting was called last Thursday where both MPs (Michael Peart and Peter Bunting), the custos, the mayor and the councillor were invited, but none was represented.
"We don't know what to do at this stage, and it's not a case where we can use our own money - if we had it - to do the renovation. The lack of interest on the part of the post master general is evident and they have expressed many a times that post offices aren't viable, hence, the need for an electronic system, but that is not the best alternative for Newport, which is a rural area."
She continued, "Slowly, Newport is losing everything: a proper police station, the market, the clinic and now our post office ... We really need the relevant authorities to come to our rescue."
Efforts to contact the MP were unsuccessful.