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2016 a year of mixed fortunes

Published:Monday | December 26, 2016 | 12:00 AMClaudia Gardner

The year 2016, in western Jamaica, has featured a mixture of a myriad of woes on one hand, and some good fortune on the other.

On the political scene in the region, the Jamaica Labour Party wrested control of all but one of the parish councils away from the Peoples National Party, in the county of Cornwall in the November Local Government Election, nine months after winning the General Elections.

The biggest environmental incident arose over in Negril, where, after months of lobbying, stakeholders in the resort town got their heart’s desire when the Government of Jamaica aborted plans to place offshore breakwaters there to combat beach erosion. 

Almost as huge an occurrence, was the collapse of scaffolding at the Royalton Negril construction site in May, which left several workmen badly injured and prompted the intervention of the Minister of Local Government, Desmond McKenzie, who ordered the site closed for a month.

The Hanover Parish Council suffered major embarrassment after it was thrown into the spotlight following the Office of the Contractor General’s tabling of a report on allegations of nepotism, favouritism, conflicts of interest and irregularity and fingered two councillors, including former Mayor Lloyd Hill as offenders. 

In Westmoreland, fires continued to plague cane fields and were cited as among the primary contributors to the continued low sugar yield there.  In fact, the Frome Sugar Factory, registered  its lowest output in its 100-year history producing only 27,507 tonnes of sugar at the end of the 2015-2016 crop year on May 29.

The region’s crime wave continued unabated and calls for a limited state of emergency, remained unheeded.  There were also calls from Senator Charles Sinclair for the Commissioner of Police to resign after 15 people were murdered in St. James in one week in mid-September, which pushed the parish towards the 200 mark.

On the flip side, the Montego Bay Cruise shipping port registered a record number of cruise vessels which visited that port, while Falmouth continued to host some of the world’s largest cruise ships.  Minister of Tourism and Member of Parliament for St. James was also awarded the World’s Leading Personality for Outstanding Services to Travel at the 23rd Annual World Travel Awards and also the 2016 Caribbean Tourism Minister of Distinction Award at the African Diaspora World Tourism Awards ceremony.

In education, Montego Bay High school brought a breath of fresh air as they topped the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) with every single member of its sixth-form cohort earning grades one to three in all three subject areas which they sat.