News

Portia defends her constituency

PATRICK FOSTER, Observer writer

Friday, September 15, 2006    

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PRIME Minister Portia Simpson Miller has hit back at critics of her South West St Andrew constituency, tossing aside assertions of extreme cases of sub-standard living in the inner-city community.

Simpson Miller, who replaced P J Patterson as head of her ruling People's National Party in February this year, and as head of government in March, said now that she is in charge she will do something about her constituency.

The prime minister was speaking Wednesday at the handing over of 186 apartments at Spanish Town Road in her constituency, under the administration's Inner City Housing Project (ICHP).

The prime minister was particularly incensed by a radio programme, aired in Miami, United States, where she charged that a Jamaican politician said that in her constituency were "all pit toilets and scandal bags" for sanitary convenience, which she strongly denied.

"What we say can have serious implications for the country," Simpson Miller said, and alleged that her detractors had gone all over the world talking about her constituency. She added that the statements were political and that the days of political one-upmanship were over.

"Politics of the 1970s and '80s are over.that is divisive, that cannot build a country. People are demanding more," said Simpson Miller, while adding that she would never sink to the "depth of gutter politics".

"I have the chance and I am going to do something about South West St Andrew," Simpson Miller said of the People's National Party (PNP) safe seat, which she has represented in Parliament for more than 25 years. She has held the seat since 1976, with the exception of 1993-1989 when the PNP did not contest the snap election called in December 1983. She has been a member of the Cabinet since the PNP's return to power in February 1989.

South West St Andrew has, which includes sections of Greenwich Town, Delacree Park, Maxfield Avenue, Payne Avenue, sections of Spanish Town Road, Majesty Gardens and Whitfield Town, over the years suffered from poor infrastructure, high crime and high unemployment.

However, Simpson Miller told her constituents Wednesday that the handing over of new apartments was "just the beginning".

She recalled that when the ICHP project was first conceived under former prime minister P J Patterson, she had to beg to get more houses constructed in South West St Andrew, as originally there were plans for only 186 houses in one site.

"Now we have four schemes," Simpson Miller told her constituents to loud cheers. "I now don't have to beg that things are done. Now I instruct that things are done," the prime minister added.

Through the ICHP, Simpson Miller's South West St Andrew constituency will receive 100 apartments at White Wing, 100 at Majesty Gardens, and 248 apartments at 231 Spanish Town Road, in addition to the 186 delivered at 88 to 100 Spanish Town Road.

On Wednesday she urged recipients of the Spanish Town Road apartments to protect the new housing scheme. "Don't let in another year people pass and say 'look at (the condition of) the houses'," Simpson Miller said, while warning against criminality in the community.

"I don't want to hear one gunshot fire down here. If there is gunshot, don't call me," Simpson Miller said.

"Please do not let me down, I trust you on this one," said the prime minister, who also pleaded to recipients of the apartments to pay their monthly mortgages.

She said the houses were subsidised and that a similar apartment could easily sell for up to $8 million uptown.

Three-bedroom apartments at the site adjacent to the Spanish Town Road traffic examination depot were sold for $1.3 million, while the two-bedroom apartments were $1.1 million.

The handing over of apartments at Spanish Town Road is the third such ceremony, being preceded by 94 houses at Denham Town in February and 252 at Arnett Gardens last month.

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