Phillips pushes for greater rural development

MILE GULLY, Manchester — Member of Parliament (MP) for Manchester North Western Mikael Phillips is calling on the Government to be more focused on rural development.

“We have to put rural development not only [as a] name in a ministry, but put the resources behind it and the action to ensure that rural communities like Mile Gully and other surrounding communities get the attention that urban communities in the Kingston Metropolitan Area and Montego Bay get so that we can continue growing,” declared Phillips at the recent launch of a WI-FI hot spot in Mile Gully by the Universal Service Fund (USF).

Phillips, who was elected on a People's National Party (PNP) ticket, argued that when rural communities are not developed it leads to migration.

“When our people go to Kingston, they don't have the living conditions like they have here at home [in rural Jamaica]. They end up a 'kotch' with somebody. They end up in bad company. There is not enough employment, then you know what the results are,” charged Phillips.

He underscored that better Internet connectivity is needed in deeper rural communities.

“Internet connectivity is something that without it not only our students will suffer, you have commerce that will suffer, you have the movement of goods that will suffer,” said Phillips as he commended the USF for launching community WI-FI access points, and argued that more access points are needed.

“Even though the Government, through the Universal Service Fund, is making these community connectivity locations available, the next step for us, which was announced by your minister [Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Daryl Vaz] in his last sectoral presentation, is looking how we are going to get that connectivity into the deeper rural communities,” said Phillips.

The Opposition MP added that the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to affect the education of the nation's children.

“We have various variants coming, as we have now, which are more easily transmissible; [therefore], we are going to continue to have the blended approach to education, and if our students don't get connectivity at home, it is okay at the school. But it is no use to the students if they have no connectivity in their homes or in the communities that they live in.

“You can connect at school, but when you go home and there is no connectivity, they [students] can't see the teacher, they can't connect. Hence why there is still 40 per cent of our students still not being able to connect to school on a daily basis,” said Phillips.

He charged that public/private partnerships are essential in achieving rural development.

“It is something that I hope that this Government and successive governments will put on the front burner to ensure the development of our communities, even though we say that it is private sector like Flow and Digicel that ought to be going into the communities, but it has to be driven by Government.”

According to Phillips, only 20 per cent of Manchester has potable water.

“We speak about the basic needs and amenities that rural communities ought to have. We have roads. Despite that, they are not maintained as they should. We have light in many, but not all. Water is also essential in a parish like Manchester,” declared Phillips.


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