Delano Seiveright, the JLP candidate/caretaker for the constituency, said that the conditions experienced on a ‘Poverty to Prosperity’ tour of the constituency with Opposition Leader Andrew Holness last week showed up a number of examples why St Thomas has become the poorest parish in Jamaica, as outlined in Planning Institute of Jamaica data.
“Collapsed roads, bridges and water systems, along with governmental neglect, widespread unemployment and high rates of poverty were among the long list of issues which were brought to the attention of the JLP leader as we toured sections of the constituency on Thursday and Friday,” Seiveright said in a statement.
He said that the Government and Dr Ferguson, the member of parliament for the constituency, “have failed the parish miserably”. He noted that poverty has more than doubled, from roughly 14 per cent in 2008 to 32.5 per cent or more today, according to the Jamaica Survey of Living Conditions (JSLC).
The JSLC report said that at 32.5 per cent St Thomas replaced St Mary as the poorest parish in 2012.
“To put things into perspective, it is the only parish without a stoplight, has the lowest value in real estate transactions, doesn’t have a parish clock, and is ridden by problems with basic infrastructure at every turn,” Seiveright said.
“There is hardly any worthwhile economic activity, so many young people are depressed and most are desperate to find a way out. Representation, frankly, for St Thomas Eastern cannot get any worse. Despite tremendous potential for development, it has been left to suffer,” he added, noting that the over 500 redundancies at Golden Grove sugar factory, announced recently, would not help the situation.
Seiveright said, however, that it is clear that the people are “keen on fresh ideas, fresh faces, and fresh leadership. They want a change”.
He said that over the two days of the tour, he and Holness shared aspects of a development plan framework for the constituency, which the JLP has been developing.
The tour began at the St Thomas Infirmary in Morant Bay on Thursday, where Holness, Seiveright and other officials met with staff and residents. They also met with representatives of the police and fire brigade, several members of the business sector, market vendors, and residents.
They visited Church Corner, Bamboo River, Lyssons, Prospect, Leith Hall, Port Morant, Airy Castle, Dalvey, Pear Tree River, Arcadia, and Duckenfield, ending with a meeting in Morant Bay on Friday night.
The tour was described by JLP General Secretary Dr Horace Chang as “highly successful and (had a) really unbelievable turnout”.
He said that this signalled that “the seat is now ready to return to its JLP roots”.