Sun | Dec 4, 2016

Red tape slows Silvera - First-term MP blasts his party for 'abandoning' St Mary

Published:Wednesday | February 4, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer

Jolyan Silvera won the 2011 election on a People's National Party's (PNP) ticket to become the member of parliament for Western St Mary, but that is not stopping him from joining forces with the people of the constituency in criticising the Portia Simpson Miller-led administration.

Silvera and the residents argue that despite unflagging loyalty to the PNP, the entire parish continues to be neglected by the administration they helped into power.

"St Mary, which has delivered time and time again to the People's National Party, has not been treated favourably," bemoaned Silvera.

"Just look at how the budget is crafted, with parishes being favoured for major projects being Kingston and St Andrew, Clarendon, St Catherine, Westmoreland, and St James, with the new kids on the block being Trelawny," added Silvera, as he argued that parishes such as St Mary, St Thomas, and Portland were being favoured with "just a major sewage system".

Silvera, a first-time MP, said he took the Oath of Office in 2012 with the greatest of expectations.

"I was looking forward to seeing how I could fix some of the ills plaguing the constituency," he declared during a visit to his constituency office in Gayle, St Mary.

"The reality dawned on me when the finance minister explained the true position of the Jamaican economy," he added.

More than that, halfway into his term, Silvera has conceded that it has been a taxing time.

"It has been a challenging three years because of the social ills that still plague the constituency in terms of infrastructural development".

He said his efforts have been further sabotaged by the layers of red tape at all levels of the process.

"This has resulted in implementation of projects not being delivered on or within time or expectations," he lamented.

Silvera cited an abject lack of adequate water as the number-one issue on the lips of constituents, with roads in wretched states of disrepair coming next.

"This continues to haunt us," he bemoaned.

The first-time MP told The Gleaner that he had been working feverishly to address the water woes in the constituency with the Mason Hall Water Supply.

"That is being championed as we speak. It could offset all the water problems plaguing Western St Mary and even North East St Catherine," he said.

Silvera asserted that a project of this magnitude would extract one million gallons of water from White River.

"The plans, designs, and everything else (preparatory work) have been done on this $400-million project," he declared.

"When this comes on stream, more than 5,000 people will be metered as clients of the National Water Commission (NWC)."

He suggested that the longer this took to come on stream, the more development in Western St Mary would be crippled.

"The building laws do not permit construction without adequate water supply," he noted. "I know of three potential developments that are being stifled."

Said Silvera: "I am disappointed because when you look at the structure of the NWC, it is top heavy, with too much bureaucracy. The minister of water (Robert Pickersgill) has made the announcement twice in his budget presentation, yet nothing has happened."

In the face of all the disappointments, Silvera has strenuously resisted suggestions that he has failed as member of parliament.

"Based on the circumstances, I don't believe that I have failed," he asserted as he added that given the opportunity by his party and the constituents, he would continue representing the people of Western St Mary.

"There are several initiatives that I have done since being elected, but as I have stated repeatedly, the perception from the outside is totally different from when you are inside and have to deliver.

"If we are committed to development, the Government of which I am a part, needs to ensure that the Ian Flemming Airport does not become a white elephant," said Silvera.

He stressed that the taxiing area of the airport should be expanded to facilitate larger planes.

"You would see a multiplier effect of the entire east coast - Portland, St Mary, and St Thomas - that would be great for tourism."

gary.spaulding@gleanerjm.com