Good grade for Vaz but Portland Eastern farmers, youth want more

Good grade for Vaz but Portland Eastern farmers, youth want more

BY EVERARD OWEN
Observer writer
editorial@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, August 31, 2020

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WHILE acknowledging that Portland Eastern has seen improvements since incumbent for the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Ann-Marie Vaz took charge of the constituency a little over 16 months ago, some residents are calling for better Internet access and more opportunities for farmers and young people.

“We need like the RADA [Rural Agricultural Development Authority] people dem to step up and pay a visit to the farmers, because they are suffering,” said Magnus Robinson, a resident of Seaman’s Valley. “Sometimes we need some fertilisers and don’t have the money to buy it, and the produce a spoil. We need some better persons and some fertilisers and things like that, and maybe the [Member of Parliament] can help. We need some help as farmers and something for the youths.”

Vaz, who is being challenged by the People’s National Party’s (PNP) Reverend Purcell Jackson in Thursday’s general election, contested a by-election in April 2019 with the PNP’s Damion Crawford following the death of the Member of Parliament (MP) Dr Lynvale Bloomfield. She amassed 9,989 votes to Crawford’s 9,670, and ended a three-decade PNP rule in the constituency.

Robinson had high praises for the first-time MP when the Jamaica Observer spoke with him recently.

“She is doing a good work, she fixing the road, guh around and deal with the people dem and the children… What she is doing now the PNP didn’t do it,” Robinson said, adding, “I think she is going to win.”

Another Seaman’s Valley resident, Karena Anderson, highlighted the work that has been done since Vaz took charge of Portland Eastern but called for more opportunities for young people.

“I see them fixing the road, and a lot of people say from dem born dem nuh see road fixed inna Kent, so the road is being worked on. As for the upliftment for the young people, a lot of them don’t think much is going on. There is HEART Trust/NSTA programme but some of them refuse to sign up for it, so I don’t know what can be done… Maybe some of the training programmes can be placed in the community so that they can have easier access to it, instead of [them] trying to find transportation to go out as that would be good.

“The Internet access is not good, as it is in and out, but it does not work well,” she added.

Kenneil Edwards, a resident of Port Antonio, is convinced Vaz should be given another mandate in the constituency.

“Based upon my observation, she has done [a lot]. I used to attend Happy Grove High School and I used to travel the road everyday, and I didn’t use to see any improvement on certain things, and she step in and she has done a lot to me, and I think she will do better due to how I see how she react towards the people and the parish on a whole,” he said. “She has been doing very good so far and upon my observation, I would love to see her get the four years to see what she would do.

“I have seen Rev Jackson around, I don’t know if he is in other areas working, but not seeing him on the forefront,” he continued. “I think he needs to be a little more visible as he’s new to the people, and make people know that he’s here and has a reason to be here.”

A resident of Kensington, Osbert Stitchel, while highlighting the need for more to be done for young people, tried to explain why some of the issues persist in Portland Eastern.

“Over the last 16 months, we have had a new Member of Parliament… and I’ve seen some changes… I think more could be done but we have to understand the budget. It is a large constituency and we have many communities, and it is difficult [to help] everybody at the same time, but she is doing her best.

“I think she should be given a chance to continue,” Stitchel said. “Looking to the future, the main road is being done the water situation is being addressed, [and] the youths need to be taken care of.”

Though Christopher Richards of Port Antonio said he could not speak to whether Vaz should be returned to the constituency’s helm, as it is for the people of Portland Eastern to decide, he gave her an eight out of 10 for the work she has done since last year’s by-election.

“The work she has done is satisfactory, because to the time she has been there and the improvement we see, I would give her thumbs up without no doubt,” he said.

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