Troy, truly a bridge over troubled political waters
THAT politics is competitive is not in doubt.
Competition, we hold, is very healthy and can assist in the preservation of our democracy as it keeps opponents on their toes, especially concerning those who enter politics not with the interest of the populace in mind, but rather for their own self-promotion or for narrow partisan gain.
There is, however, an ugly side to political competition, and when that is tinged with even the slightest strain of egoism it becomes repulsive.
Unsurprisingly, Mr Everald Warmington, the Government minister with responsibility for works, gave us a reminder of that hideous underbelly of politics with his latest comments about the Troy bridge which, before its collapse on August 18, 2021, connected almost 2,000 residents between Manchester North Western and Trelawny Southern.
Through a number of stories from August 2021 to January 2022 this newspaper highlighted the plight of the people living in communities on either side of the Troy bridge.
Children going to school, adults going to work or about their general business were suffering great inconvenience. Even more troubling was word from health-care workers at Troy Health Centre that sick elderly patients — some diabetic and others hypertensive — and babies have not been able to access the centre’s services since the bridge collapsed.
Additionally, we reported the fact that schoolchildren and adults are placing their lives at risk by using a makeshift footbridge, created from a fallen tree, to cross the river running between the affected communities. And just as dangerous is the residents’ use of a zipline, made from a rope and bucket, to cross the river.
Initially, Mr Warmington had said that a replacement bridge may take two budget cycles to be erected. However, the Government saw it fit to respond to the people’s plight and included the bridge in a wider maintenance programme for similar infrastructure.
Then came the nasty politics between the Government and Opposition about who would be allowed to be present at the opening of the new Troy bridge on its completion.
Mr Mikael Phillips, the Member of Parliament for Manchester North Western who has long argued for the replacement of the bridge, got caught in a verbal exchange with Mr Warmington over the prime minister being present at the opening of the bridge.
Mr Phillips denied that he had said the prime minister would not be welcomed when the new bridge is commissioned. The denial has not appeased Mr Warmington who, in an address just over a week ago, insisted that the prime minister will be in Trelawny to cut the ribbon and thus open the bridge.
Quite frankly, we don’t believe the people who depend on this bridge give two hoots about a ribbon-cutting ceremony. In fact, such ceremonies seem to be more important to State officials who believe that they should imprint their images on infrastructure and services that Jamaicans employ them to provide.
Get over yourselves and perform, rather than profile.