Outgoing MP defends 30-year tenure in St James Southern

Outgoing MP defends 30-year tenure in St James Southern

BY MARK CUMMINGS
Editor-at-Large
cummingsm@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, July 13, 2020

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ANCHOVY, St James — Outgoing People's National Party (PNP) Member of Parliament for St James Southern Derrick Kellier is defending his stewardship of the parliamentary seat he has held since defeating the Jamaica Labour Party's Ephraim Morgan in the 1989 General Election.

Dubbed the “seven-star general” by his close friends and party supporters after brushing aside his opponents in seven-consecutive parliamentary elections, the 73-year-old politician has given himself a 90 per cent score for his handling of the affairs of the constituency over the last three decades.

“With what funds that have been made available to me and the level of representation that I have made, I think I have done extremely well, and have impacted the constituency in a very positive way,” Kellier told the Jamaica Observer.

“Of the 100 per cent things that I have planned to do, I have achieved 90 per cent. My greatest weakness is to get the National Water Commission to get potable water to the constituents. We have pipes, but we have no water, and that is not something that I, personally, can solve. It is a matter for the government agency to find water from wherever, to put in the pipe to give the people, and I have made several representations for that to happen,” he insisted.

The constituency, which encompasses the small towns of Cambridge and Anchovy, as well as many deep rural farming communities such as Mocho, Mafoota and Garlands, and several housing developments, has for years been riddled with a chronic water shortage.

Some 60 per cent of the households are said to be without potable water.

“The water supply is bad. When you go across the constituency, places like Maroon Town, Mount Carey, Mafoota, Catadupa, communities in the Anchovy area… have been without piped water for many, many years,” a resident of Maroon Town told the Observer.

“The new Member of Parliament, whoever it will be, will have to take a serious look at providing water for the people of South St James. Honestly, it is bad, and we have to find a way, or the Government has to find a way. We can't live in a community for 30 years, 40 years and you never get water out of your pipe from you born. It can't continue like that,” the resident lamented.

Whyalin Jarrett, a resident of Richmond, also cited the need for water as well as improved roads, playing fields, community centres, employment opportunities for the youth, as some of the pressing needs of the constituency.

St James Southern, it is said, has some of the worst roads in the parish. These include the section between Garland and Mocho, the road leading from Cambridge to Catadupa, the March Pond road, which is almost impassable, Shortwood, Stonehenge and Anchovy to Mt Horeb, Flagstaff and German Town.

Unemployment is also rampant, particularly amongst the youth, while opportunities for skills training are limited.

Kellier believes, however, that he has done creditably well, and there is much to show for his hard work and dedication over the years, particularly in the field of education.

“Education has been my flagship programme,” the veteran politician declared.

According to him, during his tenure he has built basic schools in many communities, including Niagara, Mocho, Eden, Stonehenge, Johnson, and Horseguards, and has upgraded many more.

“I also have built a brand new primary school at Anchovy, a brand new primary school at Springfield; we have done massive expansion at Anchovy High, Maldon High and Cambridge High, Bickersteth Primary, Roehampton Primary, Cambridge Infant School, and we have reopened the Cuban school at Montpelier, which was there for over 30-odd years as a solider camp and a refugee camp, and we were able to return it to education for the benefit and the upliftment of the students,” Kellier boasted.

He added that he has also expended millions of dollars for educational support to student at all levels.

“We have also introduced the Community Training for Empowerment Project (CTEP) that has trained and certified, in conjunction with HEART Trust/NSTA, some 2,000 young people for jobs in the tourism industry — both overseas and locally,” the outgoing MP said.

Kellier also pointed to the creation of playing fields and community centres in Stonehenge, Maroon Town, Cambridge, and a few others communities, as well as the development of major cultural projects in Tulloch Castle, Kensington, to commemorate the events of the 1831 Sam Sharpe rebellion, and at Flagstaff.

He also cited the creation of economic ventures in the constituency, including the Maroon Pride banana chips factory and block-making businesses.

The “seven-star general” said, despite the existing poor road conditions, much has been done to alleviate the plight of motorists and residents who traverse the roads.

“We have done massive upgrading of the roads from the Lethe crossing to Great River Bridge, Cambridge to Mt Horeb, opened the road from Maroon Town to Springvale in Trelawny, and we have repaired almost all of the other roads in the constituency,” he noted, citing a lack of maintenance as the main reason for the poor state of the roads.

“Maintenance is the business of the NWA [National Works Agency] and, to be fair, they can only spend what they have,” he stressed, adding that his constituency has the most roads in the parish.


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