This is the kind of photo gallery you sometimes see in the newspapers… SMH, as they say in social media.
Yesterday, we drove through the community of New Haven. The land is flat and low-lying, wedged between the main road leading westwards from Kingston to Spanish Town, and steep hillsides. At one end is the polluted Duhaney River, which always seems to be very high and which has regularly overflowed its banks during heavy rains and storms. The area has a population of roughly 7,000 (in 1970 there were just a few hundred living there).
New Haven is in the constituency of St. Andrew Western. The Member of Parliament (MP) is Anthony Hylton, who is now Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce. Hylton is quoted in a 2011 newspaper article: “Getting capital is one of the keys to unlocking poverty in the inner city,” as he complains about delays in receiving money through the Constituency Development Fund. At that time (just two years ago) the People’s National Party was in Opposition, and Minister Hylton suggested then that Jamaica Labour Party MPs were getting preferential treatment. Mr. Hylton stated at the time, “I want to transform inner cities into ‘winner-cities.'” Later that same year, raw sewage flowed at least one street for several weeks (I can imagine the stench).
Well, now it is 2013. Mr. Hylton’s party is in power – and by the same token, one assumes that the funds are perhaps flowing a little more easily now. Certainly, a huge Seventh Day Adventist Church on the main road looks in very good condition. So does the New Haven Baptist Church. But right next to the latter church is a derelict plot of land, where garbage is liberally scattered amongst the bushes. On the other side of the church is a very nicely painted house with a well-kept front yard.
And there are some nice houses in the area, which the residents are trying to keep up. The houses are marooned – sometimes literally, when New Haven is flooded on a yearly basis – in a sea of degradation. The roads can barely be called roads at all, and become progressively worse the further you drive from the main road (and we drove far). Garbage dumped in the gully that runs from the back of Duhaney Park further down the road finds its way into the drains and the river. The drains are regularly blocked, causing flooding. There is no attempt at creating sidewalks or keeping the roadsides in good repair. Some of the empty lots are being used as illegal dumps by passing trucks – piles of construction rubble and so on – on a regular basis.
And I am afraid to say that the area does smell rather badly. I am not sure whether sewage issues remain, or whether it is the somewhat swampy river, where more garbage often floats (you can see this from the main road), or what.
New Haven has been represented by a number of politicians over the years, so I am not pointing fingers at any particular Member of Parliament. Honest. This amount of neglect has taken place over many, many years. It didn’t happen overnight.
And I know times are hard. But the residents deserve better than this. Don’t they?
I took the photographs below just as we were driving out, and I decided to focus on the “roads” – which are so appalling that they are virtually impossible to navigate. In a jeep, we just about managed it. You will have to use your imagination for the rest of what I have described, above. Or take a drive through there. Take a deep breath though, before you start.
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Revolving-fund-delay-irks-MP_9599019 Revolving fund delay irks MP: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/New-Haven-residents-flooded-out–again New Haven residents flooded out, again: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Public-health-nightmare-looms-in-New-Haven_10010184 Public health nightmare looms in New Haven: Jamaica Observer