Dunn lists accomplishments in St Mary SE

Dunn lists accomplishments in St Mary SE

Chesterfield bridge, rec centre, water tanks make the list

Monday, August 03, 2020

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ANNOTTO BAY, St Mary — Sitting Member of Parliament for St Mary South Eastern Dr Norman Dunn is the first to concede that he hasn't completed all the tasks he set out to do in the constituency in his near three years in the seat. However, he says they are high on his to-do list if the electorate rewards him with a second term, a goal which he believes is within reach.

“I believe we are very successful in what we have set out to do. One of my highlights is the famous Chesterfield bridge. We are so proud of that bridge that we have installed a Jamaican flag there. I have been here two and a half years and I've been able to accomplish most of the things we have set out to do,” he told the Jamaica Observer in a recent interview.

Dr Dunn defeated the People's National Party's Dr Shane Alexis in a by-election October 30, 2017 following the sudden passing of then Member of Parliament Dr Winston Green.

“The party has a major campaign manifesto, but I had my own manifesto for this constituency,” Dunn said. It included the development of Chesterfield and the refurbishing of Westmoreland Oval, where he used to play as a boy.

“These people are not squatters. These are people who own the land that was given to them by their parents and fore-parents, and therefore we believe that, as a country, we should assist in the development of that area,” he said, relating what he told a colleague who suggested that the residents be removed from the lands. “I said at the handing over of the bridge that I have never seen in my lifetime the birth of a community, and in this Chesterfield community you see the literal birth of a community. If you go over there you see the numerous cars that are parked there, and we have extended the roadway, although it's not paved, so people are driving down to their house now; people are building concrete structures, people are building gateways. It's just amazing to see a community being born right in front of your very eyes,” Dunn said.

“The other thing I am very proud of is the recreational centre in Annotto Bay, a multi-purpose centre formally called Westmoreland Oval. It is a sight to see. It was one of the things we campaigned on, because we believe that youth and young persons must have an avenue for self-expression. I remember as a little boy in this town I used to go to that field and it was very good, and I believe it is a dereliction of duty by the persons before me to allow that centre to be run down to the state where it was completely abandoned.

“I said that one of the things I would do when I become Member of Parliament is to immediately renovate that complex. We got help from CHASE [Culture, Health, Arts, Sports, and Education Fund], SDF [Sports Development Foundation] and other interested persons to get it up to a standard where it is now operational,” he continued. The refurbished centre was opened in January 2020.

Dunn also spoke to wayside tanks installed in some communities as an interim measure “as we work on getting proper reliable, safe, systems in the homes so that persons can turn on their pipes, use their water, and feel good”, rural water projets in Platfield and Gibbs Hill, and the building of multi-family houses under the Housing, Opportunities, Production and Employment (HOPE) Programme.

“People must have water every day,” Dunn said. “As Member of Parliament, in the second term we vow to get rid of the regulated and intermittent water supply system that we have.”

On his chances for re-election, Dunn said the projects completed to date will speak for themselves.

“By and large, people are seeing that one person can make a difference. That doesn't necessarily mean me, but you're taking the responsibility by participating in a process where you believe that collectively we can do it. Personally, I am happy where we are in terms of the historical nature; I'm happy where we are in terms of our message. We have something that we can show the constituents: here is the representative, and here is the representation that your Member of Parliament, your councillors have done for you; we have a scorecard that you can judge us on,” he said.

St Mary South Eastern, which is almost principally engaged in farming bananas, plantain, pineapple, peppers, etc, has been seeing a steady resurgence of farming in the months since the novel coronavirus hit Jamaica's shores. It's a boon to the constitutency in terms of employment and job security for the long term, Dunn said.

“Some small farmers have occupied some of the lands on their own doing plantains and peppers. There are also coffee farms and very large sweet pepper and cotton plantations by Gray's Inn and in the Epsom area. Since COVID people are realising now that farming is the best thing to go into, and it is a form of food security, and that they can make money from it and there are a lot of opportunities,” Dunn told the Observer.

“We have suggested to farmers in Camberwell and George's Hope that we will endeavour RADA [Rural Agricultural Development Authority] to let them start developing strawberry farming in that part of the constituency. We are also encouraging small farmers to come together as cooperatives so that the farming can be more sustainable than the individual farming. In a second term I will ensure that this is done.

“I am also proposing to Food For the Poor, Jamaica Producers, along with HEART {Trust/NSTA] to have a trade centre with a difference, where persons will learn to drive heavy-duty equipment and do training also — driving tractors, trailers, backhoe, excavator — as there are a lot of young people on the road that can become employable, and there are two factors that are now shells along the Fort George Road that can be utilised. There are persons in Jamaica who have these equipment but no one to operate them. If I can give these youths that job security it will go a far way, not only here for the Jamaican market, but in places like the United States, Canada, and other parts of the world

Dunn said this was also high on his agenda for a second term, as is developing Castleton Gardens, Wag Water River, the Maroon Village as destinations.

“We are proud to show that South East St Mary is on the rise; it has been a fantastic two years so far and we have a lot to show, and there is more to come. We are trying to build back this town (Annotto Bay). We have fixed the fountain and the taxi and bus pickup and delivery areas and very soon the sea wall project is going to be done from here to Hope Bay and a part of Buff Bay and Orange Bay to protect the towns.

According to Dunn, not having been able to open any factories or additional call centres in the constitutency is among his disappointments.

“In this knowledge economy and the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is upon us, it is a quick way to give a number of persons a structured job, a structured way of doing things to allow them to understand that the technology is what is going be the hallmark of the future. How do we view the technology, and how we embrace the technology? Right beside us we have one (call centre) and we are very fortunate. This is one of the few outside of Kingston, and it is right here in Annotto Bay.

“We wanted to do one in the Richmond and Bellfield side, and we're still hoping to do it in the second term as we clear away some of the cobweb of the deficiencies that have existed for so long in the constituency having to do with water, roads, etc, so that we can now move into other areas that can become value-added for young people,” the MP said.

“I am very happy that persons have recognised what I've been doing as I get a lot from persons who don't support the Jamaica Labour Party but support the other side who say, 'That MP doing things, that MP a work, you know.' And some say they are going to vote for that MP or I'm going to stay home and not vote.”

— Everard Owen

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