MARISA Dalrymple-Philibert, opposition spokesperson on Education and Human Resource Development, has joined the chorus of rural MPs seeking the implementation of a proper public transportation system for rural students.
The issue was raised by Opposition MP, Pearnel Charles, in his contribution to the sectoral debate in July. It was endorsed by Government member for South East St. Elizabeth, Richard Parchment, at a function in Myersville in his constituency in August.
On Tuesday, Dalrymple-Philibert, highlighted it in her contribution to the ongoing debate on the implementation of the National Parenting Support Commission and policy.
According to her, the lack of a proper system of public transportation for rural children was creating parental stress induced by hardship and poverty. She said that it would have to be an economic priority in making parenting easier.
"We have to look at rural public transportation for our children because the threat is there. There is great parental stress," she said, pointing out that MPs were allowed to use their Constituency Development Fund (CDF) funds to meet challenges like these.
Her intervention followed an appeal last week from former Minister of Transport and Works, Mike Henry, for the government to keep intact his proposed seven-year 'multi-modal' urban/rural transport plan, which should have been implemented by the previous administration.
Henry, who represents Central Clarendon, said the rural aspect of this plan would have first rolled out in Clarendon, before expanding to Manchester and then on to St Elizabeth, beginning this month.
He said 40 buses would have been rolled out in the first phase, and some 260 buses would eventually be on the road in the three parishes.
However, current Minister of Transport and Works, Dr Omar Davies, has insisted that the cost of financing a rural bus system is not something the country can afford at this time.
The matter has been discussed at the Cabinet level, but while there is general agreement on the need for the service it is not considered a priority at this time due to the government's financial constraints.