Urban renewal critical, says ChangTuesday, July 13, 2021
BY ANTHONY LEWIS
ADELPHI, St James — Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang has questioned the motive of people who criticise the Government's effort to redevelop urban centres, some of which have, over the years, decayed as a result of what he terms the “uptown/downtown syndrome”.
According to Chang, while Prime Minister Andrew Holness has strong views on the development of urban centres there have been criticisms from people who claim that multi-family units are being built in sections of the Corporate Area, which has changed the environment and created adverse issues.
“To hear people complain about high-rise buildings and multi-family units is ridiculous. I wonder what do they want for the country, because that is part of what has created the challenges we face today, and at the same time now, you get this kind of aim on downtown. Let us do projects to help those poor people — rather than replant the city, develop the economy and have them employed and in the process,” declared Chang.
He noted that the Corporate Area, which has six police divisions, is a principal area of violence, with the highest number of gangs and the highest rate of homicide.
Chang argued that history has shown that this is a result of poor planning in the past that has resulted in class segregation which has damaged the Jamaican society and that will take years to overcome.
“When you examine the history, because of poor planning and some level of selfishness, the working people of downtown were sent to Portmore to live — a dormitory community, low-income housing, thousands. We built up the largest dormitory community in the Caribbean.
“The people who had the wealth left their shops and commercial offices and moved uptown. Everybody who had any resource, the people who used to attend the Ward Theatre, which is our principal cultural facility, they moved uptown. They left buildings abandoned and people captured some of them. So, we end up with an entire waterfront of informal, unemployed individuals who are struggling to survive and therefore, without leadership or otherwise, [these people are surviving] criminally because [it is] a part of the culture,” explained the security minister.
He argued that as a means of addressing the issue the country needs to see the construction of multi-family units in “midtown areas”.
“It is not a debatable issue, it is common sense. Because if you don't, what is going to spread uptown further? As people earn more, the economy expands, those in the midtown start going up in the hills, destroying the hillsides where we should not be building any houses [and] creating an environmental problem. Some people move all the way up to Irish Town, up the hilltop, soon reaching the Blue Mountain, and they abandon their houses in Half-Way Tree, then you are going to get uptown coming all the way up to Liguanea,” argued Chang, who was addressing the official opening of the historic Adelphi Police Station in St James.
The Adelphi Police Station was refurbished as part of the Government's Project R O C (Rebuild, Overhaul, Construct) with funding from the Jamaica Social Investment Fund through its partnership with the European Union, to strengthen and modernise the historic structure. Work began in November 2020 and concluded in March.
The Jamaica Constabulary Force's Property Management and Maintenance Division oversaw the project which cost some $47 million.
Among the updates were a new perimeter fence, a new patio with seating for customers and a new barrack room.
“We welcome the improvements and know that both the officers who work here and the residents are now more comfortable at the Adelphi Police Station,” said Sergeant Lennon Benjamin, the sub-officer in charge of the station.
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