Residents of St Thomas are chiding successive governments for not following through on plans to develop the eastern parish.
Despite often complaining of being the forgotten parish, the residents have remained loyal to their two political representatives.
The People’s National Party’s Dr Fenton Ferguson has controlled St Thomas Eastern for the past 24 years, while the Jamaica Labour Party’s James Robertson has been member of parliament for St Thomas Western for the last 15 years.
But speaking during The Gleaner’s On the Corner series with Keith Duncan, co-chairman of the Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC), last Thursday, Hansel Whyte challenged residents of the parish to not blindly vote along party lines but to do so based on policies proposed and delivered to develop the parish.
“Government comes and government goes, and everyone come make promises that the parish will be developed and up to now we haven’t seen anything,” Whyte said.
“Vote for policies, not politicians, because we are not getting anywhere.”
Follow through and make plans work
Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced earlier this year that a town centre would be constructed in St Thomas, along with a four-lane highway from Harbour View to Bull Bay. He also said three roads between Bull Bay and Morant Bay would be upgraded.
Whyte, who has resided in the parish for the past 31 years, is however fearful that if there is a change of government after the next general election, these plans for the parish could be abandoned.
“Whenever a member of parliament or a prime minister come and say they are going to do something to develop
St Thomas, as soon as there is a change of government, there is a change of plan,” Whyte said.
“All we are asking them to do is just follow through. If there is a good policy in place that can generate income, follow through and make it work.”
Duncan agreed with Whyte’s sentiment as he shared the view that “no matter which administration is in power, they need to follow through on the development plan for St Thomas”.
Whyte further lamented the lack of decent employment opportunities for persons within the parish and said he believed it was one issue the government of the day needs to focus on.
“People with all degree have to be packing bag in supermarket, a work inna bar or run taxi,” Whyte said.
“So we have to think about St Thomas, and if we really want to move St Thomas forward. The politicians need to put aside politics and work with the policies that are there.”