Vote for community development not party interests
Now that the road passing through Bull Bay is essentially complete, it is obvious that the community considerations were either not factored or deemed to be of any importance by the planners.
It is interesting that the Jamaica Cricket Association is bemoaning the fact that there is so little interest in the game among the youth. I wonder if any of its members have driven through the island slowly enough to notice the lack of recreational facilities looking like a cricket field in many communities. This ties into the local government reality in which councillors who are said to represent the people at the community level have been missing in action. As a resident of Bull Bay I must admit that I do not know the councillor for the area.
Bull Bay is located in the St Andrew East Rural constituency in the Dallas Division, a vast division that covers an area from the shoreline to the foothills of the Blue Mountains and the border of St Thomas to Harbour View. This is a large constituency, with a voting list of over 40,000 people, with over 10,000 in the Dallas Division.
The main resource in Bull Bay is mining, including aggregate, gypsum, and limestone, all of which are used extensively in construction, but very few of the 10,000 in this division work in the mining industry. The majority of residents of the Dallas Division are farmers, fishermen, doctors, lawyers, architects, engineers, teachers, policemen, and, recently, a number of taxi operators, to name a few.
Whatever open space was available to serve the Bull Bay community was split by the new road, separating mostly flat, usable areas and beaches from the foothills and limestone quarries. Clusters of residential homes built as formal communities up to the late 1970s are now mostly infilled by informal settlements, where zoning was intended for community amenities.
Given the limited coastal real estate, it should have been a consideration to develop zoning to include spaces for small commercial enterprises and recreational activities, at a minimum, while developing the new roadway. If there is no plan to include these amenities, we will be left without space for recreational, social, or commercial activities.
So when looking at potential development opportunities for sports, like cricket, the cricket association’s lament about low enthusiasm for the sport should take into account the fact that there are no cricket pitches between Sabina Park and Morant Bay for children to be introduced to the sport or even for members of the public to watch a cricket match. Therefore, it is imperative to include these spaces in development planning. And so far the issue of development planning has not been addressed by any of the public relations departments of government.
With this in mind members of the public should take seriously the need for development in their communities, and a vehicle for that development planning is local government. Currently, the political class has demonstrated that its allegiance is only to political parties and financial backers who have used their power to entrench their positions while our country falls into disrepair and disorder.
Local government representatives must be advocates for the constituencies they represent. If a change is to be made, he or she must be selected from among the people who live in the communities and know the issues. Clearly, local issues and community planning is better served by people from local communities rather than absentee parliamentarians whose sworn allegiance is to their parties and their pensions.
I, therefore, implore all citizens of Jamaica to vote for their representatives in the upcoming local government elections. We need representatives who will primarily seek to bring everyone in their divisions together, not separate them based on party affiliation, colour, position in society, or bank accounts. We must also require that these representatives be accountable to the community, not a political executive who continuously sends people to the divisions to represent the party’s rather than the community’s interests and use citizens as pawns to get access to their resources and money.
Stress is a result of this dysfunctional climate, and we need a different approach to governing, and this must begin at the local government level.
Hugh M Dunbar
Bull Bay, St Andrew