Bernard Lodge City: Ignore the 'againsters', it is not the critic who counts

Thursday, April 12, 2018

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No major development project in Jamaica has ever escaped the wrath or opposition of people who are really nothing more than 'againsters', harbouring little or no ambition for Jamaica.

The National Stadium and Arena, the Emancipation Park and the North-South Highway and toll roads are among the many critical developments which would never have seen the light of day, if the small-mindedness of the againsters had been allowed to prevail. Latterly, they were against the Trelawny Stadium, the Caymanas Estate development and the Morant Bay Town Centre project, and they are now at it again with the proposed Bernard Lodge City near Portmore, St Catherine.

The intensity of the opposition or resistance by the againsters to these big ideas tend to vary, depending on whether it is being proposed by a Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) or a People's National Party (PNP) Administration.

The argument offered is sometimes that the projects will harm the environment. At other times the concern is that there are more pressing issues on which scarce resources should be spent. These excuses too often bear the stench of political 'bad-mindedness'.

Still, we hardly expected Opposition spokesman on National Physical Planning and Development, Mr Anthony Hylton to be among those trying to throw cold water on the Government's plan to upgrade a PNP-designed plan into a township on the sprawling Bernard Lodge lands. It smacks of opportunism.

Five years ago, the then PNP Administration unveiled a plan featuring a $5.6-billion public/private development based on 1,584 housing units on 295 acres of land in the area; with space for commercial activities; a police station and a basic school.

This year, the JLP Cabinet, saying it wanted to do away with the piecemeal approach to developing Bernard Lodge, outlined a town plan to involve 17,000 housing solutions; commercial offices; and light industrial facilities, with space for agricultural production.

Barely had the plan been mentioned in Parliament when the againsters pounced, calling for all the 'Ts' to be crossed and the 'Is' to be dotted, and that there should be transparency and widespread public debate and the like. The question is what are they so afraid of?

In the case of Mr Hylton, one could understand if he wanted to sound a note of caution, since the PNP's original plan had collapsed, resulting in potential homeowners grabbing back their deposits and a do-over of the plan.

Instead, Mr Hylton echoed the shrill tone of suspicion previously expressed by the againsters, with no objection of substance.

The bald fact is that Jamaica is not likely ever to move away from the average one to two per cent growth in the economy, if we don't undertake some major projects along with the many small ones we now have.

The Government needs to ignore these hapless againsters, remembering that “it is not the critic who counts; not the one who points out how the strong man stumbles or how the doer of deeds could have done them better; the credit belongs to the man in the arena…who strives to do the deeds”.

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