Phillips: Collapsed bridge forcing students to switch schools
Claims that Opposition-led constituencies disadvantaged in development funding
Manchester North Western Member of Parliament Mikael Phillips has blasted the Government for “playing politics with infrastructure”, asserting that little to no attention is being directed to Opposition-led constituencies.
Speaking at his constituency conference at the Mile Gully Primary School on Saturday, Phillips said the state of the country's infrastructure, with emphasis on schools, is the worst it has ever been.
Phillips referenced a collapsed bridge in Troy, which he said has triggered a wave of transfers of primary- and high-school students to institutions in St Elizabeth.
Troy, a rural district bordering Manchester North Western and Trelawny Southern, is home to the more than 100-year-old bridge traversed by residents of Manchester, Trelawny, and St Elizabeth. The bridge collapsed in August 2021 during the passage of Tropical Storm Grace.
De facto Works Minister Everald Warmington said, months ago, that there was no money in the Budget to fix the bridge earlier.
“Him say him can't give we no promise, but in other place we see it happen in short, short order. Stop play politics with infrastructure,” Phillips said of Warmington.
He added: “Because we see neighbouring MPs get over $100 million to spend in one financial year, use all NWA (National Works Agency) money fix parish council road, while others a fi a try rub two stone. It's not fair.”
The Government later announced that work to replace the bridge would commence in fiscal year 2022-23.
Speaking with The Gleaner following the event, Phillips chastised the Government for turning a deaf ear to the people's plight.
“It can't take a year to respond to a broken bridge. The children are shifting schools. I fell going across that bridge,” the lawmaker said.
Teachers have been forced to travel an additional 15 miles because of the bridge collapse, said Phillips, with increased travel expenses eroding their incomes.
According to the parliamentary representative, some teachers have disclosed their desire to relocate.
In his address at the meeting, Phillips said the PNP had long harboured the notion that there be a dedicated fund to cater to infrastructural development. That, he said, was no priority for the ruling Jamaica Labour Party.
He slammed the performance of Prime Minister Andrew Holness, hinting that his presence at ribbon-cutting events and roll-out of bypass roads was not sufficient evidence of sweeping infrastructural development compared to Holness' predecessor, Portia Simpson Miller.
“She fixed the economy. She fixed infrastructure, and to see a young man my age come and mash it up ..., “ said Phillips.
“Probably if the IMF (International Monetary Fund) never keep them in line, them woulda mash up the economy, too,” the three-term MP quipped further.