Spread the prosperity further west


October 26, 2018
The small town bustle of Black River, St Elizabeth.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Andrew Holness revealed that there is interest in building 20-storey buildings in Kingston. He said he believes that such buildings could change the face of Kingston, and he is right.

Twenty-storey buildings would certainly be a big change to the landscape and skyline of the Caribbean's most famous city. This is good news to many. To me, not so much.

If the prime minister comes across this column, I would like him consider the words that appear below.

'Jamaica is not Kingston, and Kingston is not Jamaica'.

In many countries, urban centres are more densely populated than rural communities are. This is because there are greater opportunities for jobs, education and starting businesses. This happens all over the world; country bumpkins travel to the big cities in search of a better way of life.

With that said, Jamaica has the opportunity to create other urban centres than Kingston that would be beneficial to the citizens of this country. There is no reason, for example, why towns like Black River, Mandeville and Santa Cruz cannot be developed further. Some of those 20-storey buildings could change the face of those towns, too.


Moreover, consider this: Black River has a natural harbour, so it could be a port creating thousands of jobs. Mandeville and Santa Cruz are both close by, and they could ship products manufactured there from Black River.

What this means is that you could create a massive industrial belt that would provide jobs of many kinds for Jamaicans, who would otherwise flock into Kingston, increasing demand on housing and the reservoirs that are becoming increasingly incapable of meeting that demand.

I am sure we could all be happy for cheaper rent, constant water supply, and less crowded streets. It would be easier to get to work each day and to get home in the nights. There are many other benefits, but I only have 400 words.

This government came into power under the theme of creating prosperity for a country that has had a long and painful journey since independence. However, it could also be more than that. It could also be revolutionary by beginning a process of decentralisation that would benefit all Jamaicans - socially and financially.

Think about it, Mr Holness. Jamaica needs this to happen. We are a country of about 2.8 million people, and more than a million are crammed into three parishes. Let us spread the prosperity further west as well.

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