'Sour Sally' and the cost of development

By M McLean

Friday, September 21, 2018

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Ever heard the term “Sour Sally”? It refers to a person who becomes jealous because they've been excluded from something. Well, there's a gentleman who uses the label “former Jamaica Labour Party councillor” as if it were his actual name. Now this man couldn't be a more fitting example of a Sour Sally, even if he made an effort to be.

He's written several articles in the paper giving the Government of which he was a part quite the tongue-lashing. At every turn he criticises the Government, which makes him less and less believable as an objective, concerned Jamaican.

His recent tirade classing the Government as idiotic for undertaking so many road/infrastructure developments concurrently, in general terms, makes some salient points: There is indeed inconvenience to commuters and there is an effect on productivity. The two things have in fact directly resulted from the roadwork being undertaken by the Government. But spare a moment to give some thought to the situation.

While the roadwork has certainly exacerbated the traffic situation on Hagley Park Road, Constant Spring Road and Mandela Highway, wasn't there traffic prior to these developments?

What is the goal of the Government in undertaking these widescale road rehabilitation projects? Is it not to eliminate or significantly reduce the traffic that commuters have to encounter? What is the long term impact of these developments? Will it not be increased efficiency for commuters and gateways for businesses and business development? Will it not mean greater productivity and less time travelling and more time doing? Will it not mean shortening the distance between places and greater accessibility and connectivity for all? Will it not mean opportunities for growth? It is not a mark of modernisation?

Aside from numerous and unquantifiable long-term benefits for Jamaica, there are very practical justifications for to why the Government had to undertake all these projects synchronously. Chief among them is the issue of funding. These projects are made possible through loans and, as is known, these loans come with conditionalities. Among those conditionalities are timelines for implementation or use of funds. Failure to adhere to the provisions as stipulated by loan agreement may result in its withdrawal.

So, yes, we suffer the inconvenience, and I say we because I have to travel from Portmore to Kingston and back every day for work, so I experience the traffic delays first-hand. Am I happy about it? Of course not! Do I understand why it has to be done, and am I aware of the long-term benefits? Certainly!

There is a cost for development and this is part of that thrust to get there. The problem with us as Jamaicans is that we can be so myopic. We are more invested in short-termism and instant gratification and we fail to see what is ultimately in our best interest long term.

Every country that has achieved development has had to undergo some inconvenience. They did so at a cost but in the long run they end up thriving in a modern society of their own building. We should strive to build a society that corresponds with our aspirations and one that our children can well and truly enjoy and flourish in.

Some time ago the People's National Party's campaign slogan was “Don't Stop the Progress!” I'm not sure there was much progress to speak of, but Andrew Holness is doing a mighty fine job and I just want to say, “Breda Anju, don't stop the prosperity!”

As for Sour Sally, the highway to success begins with a road…or many.


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