Infrastructural development focused on education and socialisation, coupled with greater job opportunities, are what residents of Maryland in east rural St Andrew are demanding from the Government.
The residents made their thoughts known in a Gleaner On The Corner forum with co-chairman of the Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC), Keith Duncan, in their community last Thursday.
With Duncan willing to listen and share thoughts about the role of the committee that monitors the Government’s programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the residents were not shy, during and after the forum, as they bemoaned the lack of economic opportunities and the infrastructure needs of their community.
“We’re lacking a basic school, a clinic and a post office,” declared 46-year-old Cecil Robinson.
The self-employed resident added that emphasis on development should be shifted from urban areas in order to alleviate the burden being faced by those living in “deplorable” conditions in rural communities.
But 26-year-old lab technician Kemar Fender challenged his neighbour, as he argued that a development balance had to be struck, as to shift focus solely to rural communities could result in the collapse of corporate Jamaica.
“Our community centre needs development. However, there are opportunities in place for rural folks, but we have to be more organised as a community to be able to capitalise on them,” said Fender.
“Having achieved that organisational structure, I hope the economic plan has aspects that can maximise the strengths of my community, such as farming,” added Fender.
Elisha Bogle, 70, who was born and raised in Maryland, recounted when agriculture thrived and scores of persons raked in good incomes.
“These youngsters nowadays don’t want to farm. We don’t have anybody to cultivate, is just a few persons farming,” Bogle told The Gleaner.
Marvette Cain, a 35-year-old mother of three, underscored the need for a basic school as she pointed out that the closest was some distance away in Woodford.
Cain further charged that the lack of job opportunities is the primary cause of gambling and other “unproductive activities” in Jamaica.
“I’ve seen where persons have gotten a few weeks’ employment and they no longer have a mindset to sit on the corner and idle. Persons are motivated to work, but we need the job opportunities,” argued Cain.
At the end of the forum, Maryland residents gave Duncan a nine-out-of-10 rating for his presentation of complex economic matters that are usually discusssed in terms they believe are not designed for the man on the street.