What Manchester leaders want for Jamaica 60 and beyond
From greater development of rural areas and townships to stronger accessibility to education and training, proper management of solid waste and increased camaraderie that fosters positivity and growth, Manchester leaders are hoping to realise these and other visions in Jamaica’s 60th year of independence and beyond.
The long-standing issues of water accessibility in the parish, lack of new school buildings and increased efforts for rural development are top concerns for Member of Parliament (MP) for Northwest Manchester Mikael Phillips.
“Most of our schools were built decades ago and they are now bursting at the seams. I would love to see us, not only in Manchester but nationally, have our high schools become modern learning centres, especially for rural children to come in a quality learning facility.”
The 205-year old parish, Philips believes, is lagging behind in rural development and will require proper execution of the overall development plan over the next 15 to 20 years.
“The deep-rural infrastructure is lagging behind the pace of our town centres in Kingston and Montego Bay and this is something that leaves the rest of Jamaica behind. How it is that we can get the infrastructure for rural Jamaica, at least up to pace with the rest of Jamaica, will need to be looked at.”
Echoing the MP’s sentiments, chair of the Manchester Parish Development Committee, Tony Freckleton, told The Gleaner that notwithstanding our successes, there is still much to be done.
“To improve the quality of life of our residents, we need adequate equipment at our fire stations to cover the entire parish. We have a serious water distribution problem; we have all the assets but we need now to enable the residents to access potable water,” Freckleton said.
While he acknowledged that these are not quick fixes that will happen overnight, he indicated that there needs to be greater acknowledgement of the issues by the authority and preliminary works to set things in motion.
“You can’t have a situation where so much has been taken out of the parish in the form of bauxite ... billions of dollars ... and in some years we have nothing to show for it. In light of Vision 2030 and 17 sustainable development goals [for the parish], I am urging the Government to focus on addressing these problems over time.”
With a key part of any developing country resting on the implementation of road infrastructure and traffic management systems consistent with modern-day requirements, MP for Manchester Central Rhoda Crawford said these are among the issues that continue to be on her focus list.
EDUCATION AND TRAINING
Additionally, Crawford said her wish is also to provide greater accessibility to education and training for residents.
“I am very passionate about education and training because, going to my own background, I didn’t come from any riches. I came from a struggling but ambitious family, and it is education that has played a major role in who I have become and what I have been able to achieve.”
She added: “There are quite a number of ambitious constituents and families that want the best for their children and don’t have the resources, and for that reason I have been heavily investing in the provision of access to education and training.”
Though Manchester is not one of the hotspot parishes in Jamaica for crime and violence, principal of Porus Infant School, pastor and Justice of Peace Everton Tyndale, wants a stronger focus, much like other leaders, to be placed on fostering a spirit of love and togetherness and highlighting the positives.
“There are a lot of good things happening but they are not being told and the media needs to put more of that out there, to say this is what is happening in Manchester. There are pastors and community leaders who are doing a lot of things. There are persons around who are doing beautiful things every day to change the lives of people.”
Tyndale, who lauded Custos Garfield Green for launching the Manchester Beliefs Attitudes and Values programme aimed at promoting social responsibility among residents, said he wants for it to cause a behavioural change that will improve how people contribute to parish development.
“I want for Manchester to return to being one of the cleanest parishes in the country, and that we continue to promote cleanliness and penalise persons for littering.”