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Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Na­dine Wil­son-Har­ris Staff Re­porter na­dine.wil­son@glean­erjm.com

EASTERN ST Thomas Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment Dr Fen­ton Fer­gu­son has re­futed claims of ne­glect by res­i­dents of Wil­low­field in his con­stituency.

Sev­eral res­i­dents of the sugar cane-de­pen­dent com­mu­nity re­cently told The Sun­day Gleaner that they have been aban­doned and in need of potable wa­ter, bet­ter roads and jobs.

But Fer­gu­son said he has been work­ing to have some of their is­sues ad­dressed and has also funded a num­ber of in­fras­truc­tural de­vel­op­ment in the com­mu­nity.

Ac­cord­ing to Fer­gu­son, the com­mu­nity is an in­for­mal set­tle­ment and so a lot of ef­fort is be­ing placed in get­ting them reg­u­larised.

“I have had meet­ings with the land de­part­ment, not just now, over time, and we are mak­ing some progress in terms of try­ing to reg­u­larise lands for the ci­ti­zens of Wil­low­field, and they should be aware that there is some work be­ing done, the ev­i­dence of which I can pro­duce,” said Fer­gu­son.

The vet­eran MP said be­cause the com­mu­nity is not reg­u­larised, some res­i­dents have had is­sues get­ting potable wa­ter, but there are cen­tral lo­ca­tions where they can go to ac­cess the com­mod­ity.

He said he built a ba­sic school in the com­mu­nity in the 1990s dur­ing his first stint as the elected rep­re­sen­ta­tive, and he also re­fur­bished a com­mu­nity cen­tre.

Fer­gu­son added that he has also fixed the main road which serves Wil­low­field and sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties on at least two oc­ca­sions. The last time was about two years ago.

One of the is­sues that es­pe­cially both­ered the res­i­dents was the fact that some of the street lights were not func­tion­ing.

Hav­ing lodged nu­mer­ous com­plaints, they de­cided to place a bulb in the light post in the square, which they turn off man­u­ally in the morn­ings and at nights. “Since the ar­ti­cle, I have sent per­sons to go and look and they have re­ported to me that ap­par­ently some­one knocked out the bulb, and so it might be a re­place­ment is­sue, rel­a­tive to JPS (Ja­maica Pub­lic Ser­vice),” he said.

He said he has also iden­ti­fied two or three more street lights in the com­mu­nity which are not work­ing.

The lack of jobs was a sig­nif­i­cant is­sue for the res­i­dents as well, and Fer­gu­son said he agreed with them in that re­gard.

“The sit­u­a­tion is ter­ri­ble not just for St Thomas, but for agri­cul­ture-based con­stituen­cies,” de­clared Fer­gu­son.

“It is dif­fi­cult. When you have a parish where agri­cul­ture was your main­stay,” he added.

Both the ba­nana and the sugar cane in­dus­try have de­clined sig­nif­i­cantly in St Thomas in re­cent years, and there are also is­sues with cof­fee and co­coa pro­duc­tion.



Res­i­dents of Wil­low­field in St Thomas spend­ing time in the town square.

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