Wed | Sep 30, 2020

‘Portmore victimised’ - Phillips laments JLP’s neglect of Sunshine City

Published:Saturday | August 15, 2020 | 12:00 AMDaraine Luton/STAR and Elections Editor
PNP President Dr Peter Phillips waves to supporters in Gulf, a section of Gregory Park, during a tour of the St Catherine East Central constituency on Friday.
Caretaker candidate Raymond Pryce greets 63-year-old Hyacinth Miller of Gulf, Gregory Park, on Friday. Pryce is vying to unseat the incumbet, Alando Terrelongue, in St Catherine East Central.
St Catherine East Central caretaker candidate Raymond Pryce on the campaign trail in Gregory Park on Friday. Pryce is seeking to unseat Alando Terrelonge of the Jamaica Labour Party.

People’s National Party (PNP) President Dr Peter Phillips has accused the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) of sabotaging the people of Portmore.

Phillips, speaking in the Sunshine City on Friday, said the failure of the Andrew Holness administration to build a transport centre in Portmore is indicative of the lack of concern for the people.

“Portmore has been victimised by the Jamaica Labour Party Government ... . We left in place plans and money for a bus centre like what you have in Half-Way Tree, so when the babymother, the pregnant woman, want to catch a bus, she has a place where she can go to a bathroom in comfort, and if rain a fall, she can find a place to shelter in comfort,” Phillips said.

“Our mission is to create a society where ordinary people are treated with respect in this country,” he added.

A transport centre similar to the one constructed in Half-Way Tree in St Andrew has been earmarked for Portmore since 2015. At the time, then Transport Minister Dr Omar Davies said that his ministry signed a conditional build-design contract with a Belgium consortium comprising the firms Transurb Technirail, Euro Immo Star, and Besix to construct the Portmore Transport Hub. This is the same consortium that constructed the Half-Way Tree Transport Centre.

Portmore, which has traditionally been described as PNP country, has three constituencies, two of which are expected to be closely contested. One of those seats is St Catherine East Central, where Phillips kicked off the party’s road tour on Friday. The other close seat is St Catherine South East, which did not feature in the tour.

The third seat, St Catherine South, is considered safe PNP territory.

Julian Robinson, the PNP general secretary, described St Catherine East Central as essential for the PNP to win state power. The JLP’s Alando Terrelonge won the seat in 2016 over the PNP’s Arnaldo Brown by 494 votes.

“We are here in East Central because we come fi tek it back. This seat is critical to ensuring that Comrade Dr Peter Phillips becomes the next prime minister of Jamaica,” Robinson said.

History of the seat

In 2016, the PNP polled 13 fewer votes than it did in 2011, when Brown secured 5,734 votes to beat Camile Buchanan by 558 votes.

However, the JLP increased its vote tally by 1,039 from 5,176 in 2011 to 6,215 in 2016.

There are 27,686 people registered to vote in the upcoming election, 2,627 more than were on the voters’ list in 2016.

Created in 2011, St Catherine East Central is a marginal seat consisting of communities such as Morris Meadows, Lakes Pen, Christian Gardens, Gregory Park, and Cedar Grove. Raymond Pryce, the PNP candidate, said that his team has “embarked on a strenuous campaign that will culminate in victory”.

He said that his candidacy has been warmly received throughout the constituency. Evidence of this was seen in Lakes Pen and a section of Gregory Park called Gulf.

But JLP supporters in Gregory Park have made it clear they are not prepared to surrender the seat to Pryce.

As the motorcade drove through the community, several of them flashed the iconic V-sign of the JLP and shouted ‘Shower!’ as they declared St Catherine East Central to be Terrelonge territory. One man, seemingly unable to find anything green, held up a coil of mosquito destroyer and declared his loyalty to the JLP.

Not to be outdone, however, were PNP supporters - young and old - who kept punching the air in delight as they pledged to sweep the JLP from power come September 3 when the 18th general election is held.

Urging the people to vote for Pryce, Phillips said, “We need good people in the Parliament.” He pointed to issues such as crime and corruption and said that the country “has never been in a place like this before”.

“The Jamaica Labour Party government has failed the people miserably,” he said.

In Gulf, Phillips told the people that a government led by him would see land titles being issued to persons who now occupy lands illegally.

“We are going to do hundreds of thousands of titles. Our position is that everyone inna Jamaica should have a chance to own dem house and land, and have dem own front door key, and that is a commitment that I make,” Phillips said.