Roads, water and employment priorities for Manchester Southern residents

Roads, water and employment priorities for Manchester Southern residents

BY KASEY WILLIAMS
Staff reporter
editorial@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, August 17, 2020

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GROVE TOWN, Manchester – “Mi nah vote again” were the words of taxi operator Lushington Beale otherwise called Lushie when the Jamaica Observer visited the southern Manchester area of Grove Town.

Beale’s comments are in relation to the deplorable condition of the road for miles along the Cross Keys to Victoria Town main road, which is the primary road for several farming communities.

“I have been here for about 30 years and the road condition and water have been poor from ever since… Mi nah vote again, mi stop vote. Anything mi vote for a the same thing, so mi nah vote again,” an irate Beale told the Observer.

“All the years wi round here so, wi don’t have no road and water and dem say a PNP [People’s National Party] control dat deh part deh. The parochial road is Cherry Brown control that part and she has done very good. Mi nuh know nutten bout Michael Stewart. Him nah do nutten fi wi,” said Restore resident Michael Powell.

Powell’s claims were supported by Khadijah Thompson, who feels that the community has been neglected.

“The road weh mi live ina down deh so sah, mi a 37-year-old and from mi born, mi never see dat deh road better dan how it stay right deh now. The road name Old Road and you must know say the road old mek dem haffi call it Old Road. From mi daddy a boy him a 60 odd year old yah now and it nuh better,” Thompson said.

“Mi grandmother a 99 year old and if sumn happen to ar a trouble fi vehicle come over deh. Wi a good tax-paying people. Pay all a wi tax. Wi nuh owe tax,” he added.

Over in Newport, taxi operator Kevin Johnson made a similar appeal for better roads.

“The road bad from long time. You drive pon it and is like the whole car a shake down. Mi a 43 and from mi born a so it tan. Not even patching caa help this road. It wan dig up and resurface. Dem keep a patch it and by you look it get worse,” Johnson told the Observer as he took a break from driving his taxi.

“Mi nah vote. Mi nuh see nuh reason fi vote because there is no change. Mi nuh see nuh difference… Mi vote already fi both sides and mi nuh see the difference. Fi years a just talking, a action mi wan see,” he added.

Further south in Alligator Pond fish vendors pleaded for assistance in getting sales as they say business has been slow and is getting worse each day.

“Fish naa sell like first time. We have whole heap a lobster and it naa sell… nearly three months now things rough. Some people probably nuh know say the lobster ban up,” Fish vendor Denise Morgan told the Observer last Monday during a tour of the area.

Another vendor said she hasn’t been getting a steady supply of fish.

“Sometimes mi nuh have nuh fish fi sell. Mi baby fada gone out a see now, so I hope him get a good amount out deh,” Verona Ebanks said.

The familiar cry being echoed by residents of rural communities for water, roads and employment opportunities top the scale of needs for the constituents.

The incumbent Michael Stewart has explained that the long-standing water supply issue continues to impact farmers in the constituency and the neighbouring St Elizabeth South Eastern constituency.

“South Manchester is a farming community. We depend on the farmers and the farming here. The Duff House/New Forest water irrigation scheme system has been put in place, but it has not got the full support of the Government any at all, especially in the last four years. A packaging house was built down there, which has not been opened. I don’t think the Ministry of Agriculture has even paid a visit to the facility since 2016,” he said.

“We are trying to get an agro-processing area built down there, so that the farmers, during the glut, they can process their produce there. I will be pushing for that,” Stewart insisted as he vies for a second term.

“We need to get another well there, so that the farmers can get their produce to the market,” he added.

“I notice for example a number of wells have been drilled down there for water. The Essex Valley water scheme has really impacted my constituency because the water table is not really in South East St Elizabeth. They have now come into South Manchester. They have drilled a well and are going to be pumping the water across, over into Essex Valley, and I think it is unfair to my farmers, because they need more water.”

“And for them to be pumping water away from the farmers I think that is grossly unfair. I have made the point in Parliament and I will be hammering it again to ensure that my farmers get [water],” Stewart went on.

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