Rural development has to be a part of the big plan

Rural development has to be a part of the big plan

Monday, November 12, 2018

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Dear Editor,

We must act now and include rural people within the scope of our developmental goals. We must not only theoretically include rural people in our lofty developmental objectives, but we must be practical about it.

I am a native of St Thomas, and I have felt the constrictive impacts of living in rural Jamaica. The truth is our rural parishes lack the employment or earning opportunities that people need to access to break the cycle of poverty. I assume that there are investors that want to invest in rural Jamaica, but there are many obstacles. For one, our road networks are subpar and this creates a challenge for industries such as manufacturing.

For many decades St Thomas has been a major producer of the island's milk, sugar and natural resources such as sand and gravel for construction. Recently, to my dismay, one of the only sources that provided employment in St Thomas, Seprod Limited, downsized production at Serge Island Dairy Farm and is planning to pull the plug on sugar production in Golden Grove, St Thomas. Although one must contend with the fact that other structural and company issues may have been the catalyst to rethink investment, we must not deny the role that the terrible roads in St Thomas played.

There must have been increased expenditure for the company to transport its products to Kingston. The road from Morant Bay to Seaforth, where the Serge Island Dairy Farm is located, is in dire need of repairs for many years. The road network leading to Kingston from Morant Bay is in an even worse condition. Trucks are often unable to handle the journey and, on any day, we might pass two or more broken down trucks on our way to Kingston. A ride to Kingston from Morant Bay should take no more than an hour but the current road network allows for nearly two hours. These are added costs for manufacturers and one must admit that in the game of capitalism profits are paramount.

I plead with our Government to fast-track a better road network to rural Jamaica. This will undoubtedly increase developmental opportunities in folds. I assume if we had a better road networks in St Thomas companies would prefer to stay, and it would be a catalyst to the social development changes we need.

Kimberly Roach

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