Sashane Shakes – Staff Reporter
Plans to improve rural St. James are in the pipes as Mayor of Montego Bay, Homer Davis, is calling for the advancement of select areas that have a long commute to the nearest emergency response centres.
The Mayor and his Municipal Corporation accept that while there is an influx in urbanization, progress needs to be made in addressing the state of several rural areas in need of emergency centres. “In order for the parish to grow and grow effectively there needs to be a fundamental shift in addressing the needs of the current state of urban drift impacting the city, which has resulted in brain drain in our rural areas,” said the mayor.
He continued: “It is my belief that we need to create three (3) satellite emergency response centres in the rural areas of the parish,” the three areas of focus being Cambridge, Roehampton and Adelphi.
As efforts to accommodate such are being further developed, the plan is to ensure that these communities are adequately outfitted with the necessary equipment such as a fire truck and an ambulance to provide first response in the event of any emergency with necessary first response equipment suitably based at the police station making it a multifunctional base.
Councillor Davis was addressing members of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry during a regular meeting held at Pier One (1) in Montego Bay courtesy of NCB Capital Markets.
Time, which is a deciding factor in emergency first response is seriously impeded by the location of these communities outside of Montego Bay, a disadvantage the Mayor is calling for to be addressed. “These communities are located at an average of 15 miles outside of the city of Montego Bay with an average population of close to 10,000 citizens,” he said, adding that, it is almost impossible for example “for a fire truck to leave Montego Bay and reach Cambridge in less than 27 minutes and that is if all is clear.”
We have to enable the environment so that when emergency happens there can be first response at better pace. Our rural folks need to have these facilities and if we can create not only emergency first response, if we can create the necessary network infrastructure we would be minimizing the rural drift into the urban centre of Montego Bay.” The city, he says, has a population of 120,000 people, which is 60 percent of the population of St. James, which has close to 200,000 people.
The Mayor has pledged to make himself accessible to persons who can assist in charting the way forward for the city as he believes there is immense benefit to be derived if “we are to pool our resources in a structured way towards this endeavour.”
In addition to that, he lauded the efforts of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and the Jamaica Defense Force (JDF) as reports show that there were 200 murders less this year than last year at this time.