was heavy in Anthony Hylton’s voice as he spoke about flooding in Callaloo Mews, one of the gritty communities in his St Andrew Western constituency.
Hylton was airing his concern on Tuesday during a fact-finding event at Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston for what has been termed ‘The Callaloo Mews Project’ being led by award-winning American gospel singer/pastor Donnie McClurkin and the Perfecting Faith Mission Leadership team.
“Right now, we have a situation with the Duhaney River — trees are now interlocking, blocking the river — that has not been cleaned for 15 years. Every year we make the appeal but it’s not done. As a member of parliament it’s frustrating,” said Hylton.
“And people blame the member of parliament — ‘You don’t get the river clean’ — we have to go to the central government,” he added.
Hylton, who is now in Opposition, has represented the constituency since 1993. During that time he has held senior Cabinet posts.
Pointing to a video presentation depicting recent flooding in the community, which mostly affected Callaloo Mews Basic School, Hylton insisted that the long-standing problem is a result of poor drainage.
“As you saw from the screen, that part of St Andrew is the lower part of the parish that drains the water from north to south, and so whenever it rains, everything — even when it doesn’t rain in Callaloo Mews or Riverton — the water is flowing from the upper reaches down to Riverton, so you will be in Riverton and it’s dry and water comes rushing down and you’re swamped with water,” he explained.
“So it’s a drainage problem, it’s a problem that since becoming member of parliament I’ve been focused on. Most recently, in the Parliament, I spent an entire presentation on just the drainage problem and how it affects the communities,” he added.
His concern was shared by Callaloo Mews Basic School Principal Angella Black who suggested a strategy to ease the flooding.
“It’s something that needs to be dealt with immediately. I want to build like a sleeping police to back out some of the water that’s coming off the pavement inside the school,” she said.
Pastor of Fellowship Tabernacle in St Andrew Reverend Al Miller, who is involved in the Callaloo Mews Project, also shared Hylton’s concern.
“These are the real issues, they’re not make-believe; it’s the reality and I feel it sometimes for the members of parliament because they get bashed because we just think it’s them [not performing] when the truth is they can’t,” said Miller.
In the meantime, Hylton pointed to the $20-million Constituency Development Fund, saying it was not enough to deal with social problems.