We need new townships

October 04, 2019

Every year we experience the same issues with water lock-offs and traffic congestion in the city, and I often ask myself, why is it that we seem unwilling to tackle these issues head-on?

When I first arrived in Kingston for school in 1986, traffic was only a minor issue. In fact, for me it was not an issue at all, since I had no car and had to rely solely on public transportation, and my legs, to get me where I wanted to go.

It was not unusual for me to walk from Papine to Half-Way Tree or to Elletson Flats, where I eventually moved to during my years at the then College of Arts, Science and Technology, now the University of Technology. Back then, I don’t remember experiencing water lock-offs as much.

These days, it takes you a long time to get to anywhere, no matter how close. You would get there more quickly if you walked, something that I do not do much of anymore, unfortunately.

My point, is why is it that we cannot put together a plan to minimise the urban drift that sees maybe half of the population concentrated in perhaps three parishes? Approximately 1.2 million Jamaicans live in the parishes of Kingston and St Andrew and St Catherine.

In addition to these numbers, tens of thousands more travel from other parishes like St Thomas, Manchester and Clarendon for work, or to conduct business. This leads to the ridiculous congestion on our streets and puts a great strain on our water resources.

Isn’t it time, then, that we start to devise a plan to speed up development across the island with the objective of creating jobs elsewhere?

Such a move could even encourage some to leave the city for the cooler climes of, say, Manchester, St Mary, and St Elizabeth, where the town of Black River boasts a natural harbour that can be another gateway into and out of Jamaica for exports and so on.

Kingston is not Jamaica, Jamaica is not Kingston, and we should begin to open our eyes to the possibility that we can provide opportunities for people outside the Corporate Area.

If we could encourage a movement of people outside this area towards other parts of the island, maybe we could minimise water lock-offs, ease traffic and realise lower rental rates, which I think would make most of us happier.

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