Prior Steps That Should Be Taken!
It was during the English colonial era in the 1870s that Portmore got its name. At that time, it was part of a larger region, then called the Salt Pond District, which stretched from land South East of Spanish Town to Hellshire, home of one of Jamaica’s most famous beaches. The first of the more than 40 housing schemes built in Portmore, is ‘Independence City’. So named after the significant event that occurred in the year it was developed, 1962, Jamaica’s year of Independence.
A BURNING MATTER
We have heard of many clamouring to make Portmore Jamaica’s 15th Parish. That would be inspiring, for amongst other things, it would be our first post-colonial parish.
However, Portmore is simply lacking the infrastructure to make it a Parish at this time. Some see the increased immigration into the area as “wonderful”, but gangs are also amongst the newcomers! As a resident of Portmore, I can say that we need better infrastructure. There is only ONE fire station serving the 20 communities in the whole of Portmore. We could use 3 to 4 more.
The terrible traffic in the Sunshine City will scorch your pocket, especially these days with the price of petrol racing faster than Usain Bolt! It requires urgent attention, and the government needs to expand transportation modes beyond buses and taxis. Did I say how taxing it is to drive on the roads with taxis darting in and out with reckless abandon, following a road-code reserved only for them?! Trains must come back into operation to help ease the traffic congestion along the main entry and exit corridors, especially during school-time. Perhaps, even subway trains (if they have money for that!), and the police must be consistent with their presence and action at the well-known “bottle-neck” points in the communities.
HOUSING AND HOSPITALS
Portmore needs different house-building styles. The typical “Portmore housing-scheme units” (box-like with low ceiling and slab roof) need to go into retirement. There needs to be more high-rise apartments which will be able to accommodate more persons in a more structured manner. Single family homes must still be built, but in a different way that maximizes space and are more comfortable (higher ceilings, for example, which will make the units less hot). In addition, Portmore must take steps to prevent the expansion and development of squatter communities and ghettos.
Most importantly, Portmore needs the all-important and critical, hospital: a state-of-the-art facility that can serve the needs of a city that is rapidly growing. It is ridiculous to keep putting a hospital on hold. Currently, people must travel all the way to Spanish Town or to Kingston to get public or affordable health care.
PriceSmart has made the right decision to expand to Portmore. I appeal to other large businesses to open branches in the area, as it will help the youth to find employment outside of the highly-competitive Kingston job-market. It will also take traffic pressure off Kingston. Companies must relocate their St. Catherine and Portmore employees to these “Portmore branches”.
It wouldn’t hurt either to further develop tourism in Portmore. Personally, I would love to see Helshire beach renovated and cleaned. It would be nice, too, for big hotel chains to consider “opening shop” in Portmore. In fact, I think I could imagine cruise ships coming into Portmore later when the necessary infrastructures are in place (piers and so on). Can you see how many jobs and opportunities this would create?
Also, with plans to open Starbucks and other fast food and entertainment venues in Portmore, I think it would be wise to either renovate or expand the famous Portmore Mall, or perhaps an entire new mall could be built.
Another critical thing needed in Portmore would be a Portmore campus of the University of the West Indies. It would be the first major university in Jamaica to come to Portmore. Current St. Catherine and Portmore students could then switch to the Portmore campus.
I would like for Portmore to get 3 to 5 new high schools (so students can spend more time on school work or resting, rather than suffering in horrible lines of traffic). A couple new, well-outfitted Kindergartens and Basic Schools would also help.
Finally, in terms of education, I think a sports complex should be constructed in Portmore with a swimming pool. This may seem like a lot and very expensive, however, looking into the future and turning Portmore into a parish, this seems to be worth it and would help to attract our young men, too. Help them to work-out so they are too tired for unproductive activities that only get them into trouble!
FERRIES AND POLICE H/Q
I quite agree with the proposal to build a ferry terminal and have ferries transport people across the channel into Kingston. I think that if this was made affordable and not too slow, it would help to reduce traffic.
Due to the threat of Climate Change, I would advocate for seawalls to be built in critical areas of Portmore. It is said that certain communities (especially those along the canal) were formerly a part of the sea (‘dumped up land’ is what they are loosely called). So, to be safe, I would suggest that seawalls and other preventative measures be taken to prevent sinking, or tsunamis in the event of a major earthquake.
With the growth in Portmore’s lovely (and not so lovely criminal) population, a state-of- the-art Police HQ in the heart of the city would be a good idea. This HQ would have hundreds of cops and multiple cars and motorcycles. This would facilitate quick response in the event of a shooting, robbery, and other types of crime. This would also intimidate criminals and discourage them from establishing criminal enterprises in Portmore.
LIGHT, FOOD & CLEANLINESS
I really do think that at least some of these points that I have outlined, especially the hospital, schools, fire and police stations, should be implemented before Portmore is made the 15th. parish. Let us address as well the matter of garbage collection, public lighting and the parish’s food supply. We need to see more secured garbage bins along the roads, more lights on our major roadways, and large-scale farming at Bernard Lodge. Where else in Portmore can we find farm lands? How is the parish’s food supply being secured?
I believe that these are reasonable questions that must be answered before making Portmore a parish. What do you think, folks?
That’s all from me for now – Ifeoluwa.
Ifeoluwa Alonge is 13 years old and has been part of the Freedom Come Rain newspaper family since he was age 11.