McKenzie brings good news to Blenheim
Busta’s birthplace gets much-needed attention
BLENHEIM, Hanover — Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie has promised to give much-needed attention to the deep rural community of Blenheim, Hanover, the birthplace of National Hero, Sir Alexander ‘Busta’ Bustamante.
In the past, residents of Blenheim, Cacoon and a section of Dias in the parish, have staged numerous demonstrations to highlight their disgust over the lack of water and poor road conditions in the area._
There have been no protests this year, but last Friday, Minister McKenzie brought great news for the community of Blenheim during his address at the civic ceremony to mark the 133rd anniversary of Bustamante’s birthday.
“I want to make a difference in this community in recognition of the work of Bustamante,” McKenzie told the gathering.
Among areas to receive attention are the road network, water supply and the renovation of a community centre.
McKenzie said that $20 million is to be spent on the construction of “a proper roadway” leading from Dias through Cacoon to Blenheim.
“This is a main road in this community. The road leading to the birthplace of Sir Alexander leaves much to be desired. The time for patching is over and done with. The Ministry of Local Government will be providing $20 million to commence work on this main road leading into Bustamante birthplace,” McKenzie disclosed.
Aston Buchanan, a former chairman of the Blenheim Community Development Committee said the lack of water in the area has been a thorny issue for several years.
He said it is only during February of each year that the community would get a little water in their pipes, and this year was no different.
“The only time we get water through the pipe is when ‘Busta’ birthday a come up. Sometimes the water comes as far as the Dias hill out by Cacoon. There is a [stand] pipe out there, plenty times I pass out there and water is there. But, I don’t know what happened, it don’t come any further,” Buchanan told the Jamaica Observer West.
Residents, he pointed out, have had to pay the operators of a water truck $350 to fill a five-gallon container.
McKenzie in the meantime said it is unacceptable for the area to be lacking representation, both at the local and central government level.
“…The question needs to be asked, and I am not being political, where is the political representatives for the area? An area like this where Sir Alexander is from, people shouldn’t be living in this kind of condition. So, it means that there has been a lack of representation, both at the level of central government and at the level of local government, and this is totally unacceptable! Totally unacceptable.” McKenzie declared.
“I make no apologies in saying that the Member of Parliament [Ian Hayles] and the councillor [Sheridon Samuels] have neglected this area. The area should be viewed as if it is the area where Sir Alexander Bustamante came from.”
“You have visitors coming here to visit the birthplace of Sir Alexander Bustamante. They shouldn’t just have to visit and see just where Sir Alexander was born looking good. That doesn’t speak good for the community, and I am really disappointed; really disappointed, and whatever the ministry can do, whatever the ministry has responsibility for, we are going to undertake and deal with it,” added McKenzie.
Following the ceremony, the minister gave directives to the Hanover Municipal Corporation to truck adequate water into the area. He also said he will be having dialogue with the Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Dr Horace Chang on the issue of water for the area.
And, a building to be used as a community centre, which was constructed in 2000 by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) is also to be rehabilitated. The building was never opened to the community.
According to Buchanan some $600,000 was allocated for furniture, which never came.
McKenzie said residents have been begging to have something done with the community centre, which has been occupied by animals.
“It has been left idle, goat, cow occupy a building that could benefit the residents of this community. The Ministry of Local Government, through the Social Development Commission (SDC), will undertake the restoration of that community centre and equip it for the betterment of the people of this district ... and this is not a promise,” stated McKenzie.
He added that he has instructed technical officers from his ministry to “immediately start an estimate of what needs to be done at the community centre, and we are going to provide the money to renovate it.”
“We are going to engage the community as to what the community thinks is best for them. I understand that there are a number of agricultural products around here that could be useful in this facility,” McKenzie suggested.