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JIS News

Cultural exchange and technical advice are being facilitated by the twinning relationship established between the cities of Kingston, Jamaica and Port of Spain, Trinidad.
Two years ago, this month, Mayor Murchison Brown of Port of Spain and Mayor Desmond McKenzie, of Kingston signed a declaration of friendship between the two cities, proclaiming their intention to “promote cultural, tourist, social and economic exchanges and to encourage the development of understanding, mutual respect and friendship between the inhabitants of both cities.”
Speaking with JIS News, Mayor McKenzie said that through this relationship, the KSAC was benefiting from technical advice on the development of the May Pen Cemetery.
Indicating that efforts were being made “to expand other areas of mutual agreement” between the two municipalities, he pointed out that “they have a very efficient and competent municipal police force [and] we are going to be getting some ideas from them as to how their municipal force works.” As “twin sisters,” the two capital cities relate upon a principle of exchange. The KSAC has been able to pass on expertise to Port of Spain, particularly in the formulation of a pension scheme for councillors.
“We will also be looking at how we can interact during World Cup 2007 to see if we can get a team from Port of Spain to come to Jamaica, and a team from Kingston to go to Port of Spain to look at different areas [in which] we can bring in some of the Trinidad culture here, and some of the Jamaica culture there,” Mayor McKenzie told JIS News.
The Mayor holds the view that city twinning, as an agent of integration, was salutary to national development. “The integration is good,” he said, “as it serves to open borders and to allow you to interact and to deal with issues that are important to just about everybody”.
Additionally, Kingston was also twinned with Havana, Cuba two years ago. Since the declaration was made, Kingston has donated US$5000 towards the renovation of the Nanny Basic School in Havana, while G.C. Foster College has received a donation of sports equipment through this relationship.
Evidently, the strategy of twinning allows local authorities to avail themselves of resources, which were limited or unavailable here. It also facilitates tapping into technical expertise on an international platform, as well as the sharing of indigenous ideas and resources.
Explaining a limitation to applying the advantageous scheme on a wider scale within the Caribbean region, Mayor McKenzie revealed, “outside of Trinidad, and to a lesser extent Guyana, there is no other Caribbean territory that has mayors”.
He further explained that the size of some Caribbean islands makes it impractical to establish a mayoral system. As a result, twinning opportunities are absent in such situations, as the initiative to twin two cities is undertaken by the Mayors of both cities. In Jamaica, the relationships are nurtured by Twin City Committees, which coordinate the activities of respective cities and their twin counterparts.
The twinning of cities is no new phenomenon to Jamaica. In fact, Kingston has been twinned with Karamazou, Michigan since 1962, and has entered into similar relationship every decade since.
Guadelajara, Mexico; Shenzhen, China; Birmingham, England are some of Kingston’s several twin sisters. Some of these relationships, however, have been inactive. Conceding that several twinnings are merely ceremonial, the Mayor assured that “we are trying to.resurrect the twin city committee that was dormant.”