Jamaican policymakers must ignore the ‘againsters’
Jamaica has a group of people who can be regarded as the ‘againsters’— a perpetually pessimistic bunch who can never see any good in any plans for the future.
The ‘againsters’ opposed Universal Adult Suffrage, which gave the vote to Jamaicans 21 and over, then they opposed moving the voting age from 21 to 18; they thought Independence was foolishness; they were against the building of the National Stadium and the National Arena. The ‘againsters’ saw no useful purpose in a National Housing Trust (NHT); they opposed building a new Parliament; they were against the highways and toll roads; they condemned Emancipation Park and everything else that even slightly resembled a legacy project.
Had our policymakers listened to these ‘againsters’ it is difficult to imagine where Jamaica would be at this time. Look at what the stadium and arena have become to our world-class athletes.
Try to visualise a Jamaica without the NHT and its value to thousands of homeowners; imagine the main east-west corridor by way of Mount Diablo and Flat
bridge without Highway 2000.
Over many years, the call has been made for the construction of a modern Parliament building. The ‘againsters’ — as they usually do — argued that the money could be better spent on education, health and the like. Once again, a new Parliament building is on the cards, with Chinese help, and we hope the ‘againsters’ will be ignored.
Never without their blinkers, they are unable to see that population growth and constantly changing times demand investment for a better future, or that what is put off today is going to cost us more to finance tomorrow.
The latest project being opposed by the ‘againsters’ is the plan to expand the Ian Fleming International Airport at Boscobel, St Mary. The question they don’t ask themselves is what would western Jamaica and our tourism be without the Sangster International Airport?
Eastern Jamaica is blessed with the ingredients for a new era of tourism. With accommodation ranging from rustic bungalows to simple cottages, villas and five-star hotels, natural attractions, lush vegetation, and mild weather, Portland, St Mary and St Thomas beg for development that tourism will spur.
But tourism and the jobs that come with it will not materialise unless the infrastructure is put in. This includes better roads and, of course, an airport for ease of air travel. This is where the Ian Fleming Airport holds the key that would unleash the development that eastern Jamaica awaits.
At its current size, the airport cannot accommodate large aircraft, for example, those seating 55 and over that would most likely fly out of the East and West coasts of the United States, and Central and South America.
The question with development projects is always what comes first, the chicken or the egg. In this case, infrastructure or investment? Without ease of air travel, the tourists will not come in droves. We must make the investment in infrastructure if we want to attract the investment.
These are times for men of vision, not for those who can’t see beyond their noses. It is definitely not a time for the ‘againsters’.