JLP’s Witter looking to increase margin of victory ‘tenfold’ in St Elizabeth SE

JLP’s Witter looking to increase margin of victory ‘tenfold’ in St Elizabeth SE

Observer staff reporter

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

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JUNCTION, St Elizabeth — Having won by 205 votes in the 2016 General Election in this marginal seat, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) incumbent for St Elizabeth South Eastern (SE) Franklin Witter is vying for his third term as Member of Parliament.

Witter, who first became MP in 2007 after beating the then People’s National Party (PNP) candidate Norman Horne by 544 votes, is confident that unlike in 2011 when he lost to former PNP MP Richard Parchment, his work will speak for itself to comfortably retain the seat on September 3.

The PNP’s candidate this time around is newcomer Dr Dwaine Spencer, who is seeking to unseat Witter.

“I am very confident that I will increase that margin. I think maybe about tenfold… And the reason for my confidence is the amount of work that I have put in the last four and half years. Mainly the two Essex Valley projects, one is the Essex Valley domestic water supply, which has brought water into several communities including Myersville. It was mentioned sometime ago that the water came into Junction and not in Myersville which is far from the truth,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

“As a matter of fact, Myersville got the potable water supply before Junction. The entire Myersville housing scheme has water, All Valley, Nain, Lower Warminster, Nain Proper, Stephen’s Run, all those areas are in the Myersville Division and all those areas have access to the Essex Valley water supply,” he added.

When asked about other communities in the Myersville Division that were bypassed in the water project, Witter claims that most of the communities in the division are benefiting from the Essex Valley water supply.

“Myersville has more communities receiving water from the Essex Valley project than any other division. If you look at the Myersville Division and you look at the layout you would understand that the Essex Valley water supply project is now in the Myersville district, Austin district, Lower Warminster district, All Valley, Nain, Lucky Valley, Stephen’s Run, Gazeland, Cheapside and the pipeline is now being built going into Brinkley. When you add those communities against the Junction Division you will see that Myersville has more communities with water,” he said.

“All those communities are around Alpart… We have about 32 communities [around Alpart] but about a third is in South Manchester, based upon its location, so as it relates to South East St Elizabeth, the communities that fall within that zone are about 20 something,” Witter said.

Responding to claims by PNP Manchester South incumbent Michael Stewart that water is being taken from that constituency, Witter said: “What is happening now is that we are improving on the New Forest/ Duff House potable water system, and that now will improve the supply into South Manchester and South St Elizabeth. It was originally designed for both areas, maybe 70 years ago when it was installed… Those areas were in St Elizabeth before.”

According to Witter, the provision of water supply to several communities is his “greatest accomplishment” in the constituency so far.

“As you know, South St Elizabeth is known as the breadbasket parish and that[water] is one of the greatest challenges we have faced over the past 50 years. I have been able to address that significantly and we have plans to extend,” he said.

“We have been able to also put water shops in those areas that are not yet served, like Malvern, Top Hill, Tryall. We have installed three water shops with a capacity of 18,000 gallons for each shop and it is served by the St Elizabeth Municipal Corporation… Those are temporary until we are able to expand the Essex Valley system,” he added.

Witter disclosed that there is also an irrigation component to benefit several communities in the Myersville Division.

“The Government is spending over $4 billion through the National Irrigation Commission, assisted by funding from the Caribbean Development Bank… Six wells will serve the [irrigation] system. All of them have been drilled and completed. They are now doing the design drawing for the extension of the pipelines within the communities,” he said.

Additionally, the incumbent said more than 80 per cent of the road network in the constituency has been addressed.

“… Eight-five per cent of the roads in the constituency are in a better condition and we want to complete the other 15 per cent going forward,” he stressed.

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