St Thomas de­mands bet­ter roads

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - KIM­BERLY ROACH kim­ber­ly­oroach@hot­


WE MUST not only the­o­ret­i­cally in­clude ru­ral peo­ple in our lofty devel­op­men­tal goals but we must be prac­ti­cal about it.

I am a na­tive of St Thomas and I have felt the con­stric­tive im­pact of liv­ing in ru­ral Ja­maica. The truth is, our ru­ral parishes lack the em­ploy­ment or earn­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties that peo­ple need to break the cy­cle of poverty.

I as­sume that there are in­vestors who have ru­ral Ja­maica on their radar, but there are many ob­sta­cles. For one, our road net­works are sub­par, which cre­ates a chal­lenge for in­dus­tries such as man­u­fac­tur­ing.

For many decades, St Thomas has been a ma­jor pro­ducer of the is­land’s milk, sugar and nat­u­ral re­sources such as sand and gravel for con­struc­tion. Re­cently, to my dis­may, one of the few sources of em­ploy­ment in St Thomas, Se­prod Lim­ited, down­sized pro­duc­tion at Serge Is­land Dairy Farm and is plan­ning to pull the plug on sugar pro­duc­tion in Golden Grove.

Al­though one must con­tend with the fact that other struc­tural and in­ter­nal is­sues may have been the cat­a­lyst to re­think in­vest­ment, we must not deny the role that the ter­ri­ble roads in St Thomas played. There must have been in­creased ex­pen­di­ture for the com­pany to trans­port its prod­ucts to Kingston. The road from Mo­rant Bay to Seaforth, where the Serge Is­land Dairy Farm is lo­cated, has been in dire need of re­pairs for many years. The road net­work lead­ing from Mo­rant Bay to Kingston is in an even worse con­di­tion.

Trucks are often un­able to han­dle the jour­ney, and on any day, we might pass two or more bro­ken-down trucks on our way to Kingston. Th­ese are added costs for man­u­fac­tur­ers, and one must ad­mit that in the game of cap­i­tal­ism prof­its are para­mount.

I plead with our Govern­ment to fast-track a bet­ter road net­work to the ru­ral parts of ru­ral Ja­maica. This will un­doubt­edly in­crease devel­op­men­tal op­por­tu­ni­ties.

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