Tue | Jun 6, 2023

Letter of the Day | People have no choice but to migrate

Published:Tuesday | March 21, 2023 | 5:54 AM


I recently listened to a friend lament the difficulties associated with living in Jamaica as an ordinary citizen. “We just can’t seem to catch a break,” she uttered in total frustration, alluding to the high cost of living, poor government services, bad roads, drought, flooding, and a whole host of mostly man-made disasters, such as crime.

Over the last five years or more, ordinary Jamaicans, and especially those living in Kingston, have been bombarded with a host of traumatising events, one behind the other, set against the usual increases in murders and high prices of basic commodities.

It started with the mega roadworks in and around the Corporate Area. As a result, many small and medium businesses had to be closed down, and residents suffered from dust nuisance and the great inconveniences of these roadworks happening all at once. This was very stressful.

Then we had multiple states of emergency (SOEs), creating long lines of traffic trying to get in and out of Kingston and other cities and major towns. This compounded the stress among motorists and commuters and offered no comfort. The exercise seemed futile as our murder rates began climbing soon after SOEs were eased.

Then came COVID, which was the last straw to have sent ordinary Jamaicans like me into serious shock and depression. The effects of the pandemic and especially the measures to curtail the virus’ spread brought on all kinds of economic and social pressures. People lost jobs, homes, relationships, and lives as a result, with some losing multiple family members. The pandemic was stressful, but the restrictions and continued SOEs created catastrophic negative impacts.

Then there have been the persistent increases in prices, doubled with bad roads, drought, flooding, long lines at tax offices, traffic ticket amnesty woes, criminals terrorising people, and the scammers who, as they say, “a chop di line”. It seems that nothing works right in Jamaica because the police can never seem to solve a simple crime. People constantly suffer from anxiety because we live in constant fear for our lives as we see the ease at which criminals commit crime then simply walk away with no fear of the police finding them.

The Vision 2030 seems like it is not meant for ordinary citizens. If social media is anything to go by, where we see persons of the upper echelon living it up even during the pandemic, then I am afraid that this is true. Even when hard-working Jamaicans try their best, there is no encouragement to stay and stick it out. When qualified people migrate, others are following suit. It is only a matter of time before we all leave in droves if things continue as they are.

The cynicism is justified because ordinary citizens realise that Jamaica has become a major spirit breaker, which is sad. We live in a harsh reality where it seems we just can’t catch a break!


Executive Director

Jamaica Drivers Syndicate