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''Green' no more - Residents of Green Island lament lack of development, employment opportunities

Published:Saturday | March 24, 2012 | 12:00 AM
The closure of the Green Island Branch Library in Hanover has resulted in students travelling almost 10 miles to the parish capital, Lucea. - Photo by Mark Titus

Mark Titus, Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

Having had over nine decades of first-hand experience of life in Green Island, Hanover, Wilhen Daley has a most interesting perspective on the development of the rural town.

"Population and business have increased, but there has been no real development. There has been no structure in place to grow the town," the 96-year-old said.

Revered as the oldest living resident and mother of the seaport village, 'Aunt Wilhen', as she is affectionately known, believes that former years were more productive and beneficial for the locals.

"Residents, back then, were more able to take care of themselves because they had the requisite skills," stated the former schoolteacher and postmistress.

"We had shoemakers, dressmakers, tailors, bakers, who were all locals and doing their business here. But all you see today is unemployed youth sitting idly by the roadside."

Green Island, which is strategically located between the resorts of Montego Bay and Negril, is a small but nondescript landmark that seems to hold no significance nationally.

Challenging times

The community has a reliable water supply, and crime is not a concern at this time, but roads are in a deplorable state. The residents have to travel to the parish capital of Lucea to collect mail as the much-anticipated construction of their new post office is still incomplete.

"Things really challenging, nothing is happening," said Garth Smith, who operates a barbershop a few metres from the town square. "The youngsters are leaving school and struggling to find jobs. So jobs - more than anything else - are needed in Green Island."

However, Aunt Wilhen believes that if the "abandoned" farm lands - which once made Green Island one of the most thriving districts in the parish - could once again be cultivated, wealth would be created, and prosperity would come to her beloved town.

"Those days were the days when our lands were planted with crops like cane and banana, when The Atlantic, Standard and United Food Company would come into our harbour to collect our produce," she recalled.

"Now, these lands are uncultivated and wasted, or taken over by housing schemes."