East Portland businessmen anticipate infrastructural work, tourism boom
Businesses in eastern Portland are urging Member of Parliament-elect Ann-Marie Vaz to get cracking on addressing the issues of bad roads, water shortage and unemployment during her first 100 days.
The expectations come against the background of the Jamaica Labour Party’s victory at the polls over the People’s National Party’s (PNP) in the by-election last week.
“There are the perennial problems of bad roads and a lack of potable water,” Bentley Rodney, owner of Island View Jerk Centre at Bryans Bay, told The Gleaner last Friday as the constituency slowly returned to calm after the by-election buzz.
He added: “I want to see the work which started earlier, and was halted in several communities, to continue as access to road is critical for pedestrians, commuters and motorists. And, of course, there is the problem of piped water, which affects a majority of the communities in East Portland.”
Rodney believes East Portland deserves immediate attention in improving basic infrastructure, and is adamant that resources will have to be allocated from central government to address some of the issues impacting residents.
“I am really expecting the necessary changes which will improve the living conditions of those living in deep-rural communities. Water is needed in the homes of people and road surfaces will have to improve.
I am expecting that sustainable jobs will be made available for the youths, who are rather idle and oftentimes resort to crime,” he added.
Another businessman, Lloyd Williams, who operates a sports bar in Boston, pointed out that Port Antonio is eagerly anticipating a resurgence in tourist arrivals, which would also help to increase activity in Boston, which is the home of jerked pork, a major culinary attraction in the parish.
“We need back the cruise ships so that tourists can once again come to Portland, which is the cradle of tourism,” he stated.
Williams continued: “Back in the day – 1980s – we used to get dozens of tourists each day coming to Boston to buy jerked pork and drink rum and Red Stripe beer. At least one ship per week could make a great difference in helping us earn [more] from our livelihood. In addition to that, I am hoping that our new MP will be able to create jobs for those who are idling on the streets of Port Antonio.”
In the contest last Thursday, Vaz polled 9,989 votes to the PNP’s Damion Crawford’s 9,670 based on the official count by the Electoral Office of Jamaica.
Vaz’s total is the second-highest ever in East Portland for the JLP, bettered only by Anthony Abrahams’ 10,196 in 1980. Ironically, Crawford also polled the highest-ever tally for the PNP in the constituency, bettering the 9,314 votes received by slain MP Dr Lynvale Bloomfield, against Patrick Lee in 2011. Lee polled 8,061 votes in that election.