Portland Communities Discuss Social Issues


A number of issues relating to the communities of Black Rock, Castle, Islington, Priestman’s River and Commodore in Eastern Portland were discussed at a Community Meeting sponsored jointly by the Portland Parish Council and the Jamaica Information Service (JIS), at the Fair Prospect Primary School, on Thursday (April 15).
Among matters discussed were inadequate water supply, maintenance of the Priestman’s River bridge to ensure its structural integrity, opportunities available to farmers, and conditions at the Fair Prospect Health Centre.
Organisations represented were the National Water Commission (NWC), the National Works Agency (NWA), the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) and the Portland Health Department.
Chaired by Councillor Derron Wood of the Portland Parish Council, the meeting facilitated interaction between the residents and the organisations represented, to foster improved relationship and better cooperation.
Addressing concerns relating to the water shortage affecting the area, Portland Parish Manager for the NWC, Mr. Richard Williams, said his organisation was working assiduously to address the problem. He added that a programme has been put in place to truck water into affected areas, to ensure that residents were provided with water on a regular basis.
Observing that the situation has been created by the low water level in the catchment area, he assured residents that commitments have been received from the Ministry of Water and Housing for the distribution of water tanks, at strategic points in the area, to help address the problem.
In respect of concerns about the maintenance of the Priestman’s River bridge, Parish Manager for the NWA, Mr. Damian Townsend, told the meeting that routine inspections carried out by the Agency have not revealed any cause for concern relating to its operation, and gave the assurance that there was no risk involved in its daily use.
He conceded however that routine maintenance of the bridge was not being conducted as regular as is desirable, because of a shortage of funding.
In respect of opportunities available to the farmers, Chairman of the RADA Board in Portland, Mr. Wayne Bailey, said RADA has formulated a number of initiatives aimed at assisting farmers and boosting agricultural production in the area.
Among these initiatives, are the Fruit Tree Crop Programme, through which Government will purchase fruits from farmers to produce drinks for the school feeding programme; a loan facility, through which up to $500,000 is being made available to farmers without collateral to cultivate specified crops; and the promotion of the backyard garden programme to help increase and diversify agricultural production.
In her address, Public Health Inspector for Portland, Ms. Elaine Cunningham, said that concerns expressed about the conditions at the Fair Prospect Health Centre, will be addressed, in order to ensure that residents experience full satisfaction whenever they access the service.
Speaking to JIS News, after the meeting, a number of residents expressed appreciation and asserted that the interaction with the various agencies was a healthy sign that the communities are serious about forming partnerships to promote their development.

JIS Social