Black Immigrant Daily News
THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine, right, and Deputy Chief Secretary Dr Faith BYisrael, at Tuesday’s Executive Council town hall meeting, Cyd Gray Complex, Roxborough. Photo by THA
Chief Secretary Farley Augustine has promised to continue the development of the Roxborough/ Argyle electoral district.
Augustine was speaking on Tuesday night at the THA Executive Council’s town hall meeting at the Cyd Gray Sporting Complex in Roxborough.
The THA administration has come under fire from the district’s electoral representative, Watson Duke, who has accused Augustine of neglecting the area to spite him. Duke and Augustine had a public fallout last September which escalated to the point where the former resigned as Deputy Chief Secretary and the latter followed suit from the Progressive Democratic Patriots.
Duke was present at Tuesday’s meeting but stood in the back for the entire four hours and did not speak.
In his preamble, Augustine acknowledged Duke’s presence and gave an update on projects ongoing and completed within the area. He said all the schools in the district have been renovated, but Roxborough Secondary School is still undergoing some repairs.
“Currently at the Roxborough Secondary School, we have a project ongoing where in the auditorium, we are converting the auditorium to almost an indoor court with timber, hardwood floors so that netball, basketball, volleyball and all sports – futsal included – that can be played indoors, can be facilitated there.”
That project, he said, comes along with rubber tiles, “so that you can continue to use the facility for your weddings and your christenings and your parties. Rubber tiles would protect the hardwood when it’s being played upon.”
The stage area and the roof of the auditorium, he said, is also part of the scope of works. He said the only public tennis court in the East, adjacent to the school, will also be looked at.
“The tennis court and basketball court will receive some substantial upgrade work and we are currently looking at the possibility at doing at least a half-Mondo track to service the track and field athletes across at Roxborough Secondary.”
There are also plans for the refurbishment of the hard court in the area.
“We have one at Louis D’Or and we also have one to rehabilitate at the Kendell Farm School. Additionally, the grounds at the Kendell Farm School, the Department of Sport continues to maintain that grounds. We have been cutting the grass and preparing that ground for the department of sport, so it’s no longer for the Farm School to tie cows and sheep and goats but we are in the process of bringing that ground fully back into the Department of Sport for use by the community.”
He said there are two smaller grounds in the district – at Argyle, opposite Pablo’s Supermarket, and at the Delaford Anglican School – which will also benefit from upgrades.
Additionally, he said that work is ongoing at the swimming pool in Kendell, noting that the original scope of works “proved to be a little too shallow.”
He said, “You know sometimes you go in to do one set of works and as you peel back layers to do the work, you realise that there are more works to be done – effects we did not see before – so that has lengthened the time to treat with the Kendell Farm School works.
“In terms of the Delaford Community Centre, he said the keys have since been handed over to the THA Division of Community Development, Youth Development and Sport and a Memorandum of Understanding is being prepared to be signed with the Village Council.”
Despite the update from Augustine, residents, during the open forum, expressed dissatisfaction with the rate of unemployment among youths in the area.
Resident Runako Murray complains about lack of opportunities for youths in Roxborough/Argyle at a THA town hall meeting on Tuesday. Photo by THA
Resident Runako Murray said, “My problem is, I from Argyle and majority of the youths in Argyle working on a $80 (per day) project in the morning. They’re working for like probably $800 (a fortnight) – well I unemployed so I don’t fall in that category, but most of my friends and them working…and most times is problem for them to get pay.”
He added that the people in the electoral district were fed up getting mamaguy.
“We want work. We want to get money in we pocket. We want to get work, that is what our problem is. The youths and them around here need jobs, so allyuh create employment around here for we please.”
Augustine said the shortage of workers has been an issue for a while across the eastern side of the island, especially in health and infrastructure.
He said the THA liaises with the NUGFW, as part of the collective agreement, to address vacancies. He said when the administration got into office there was not a budget to cover the hirings to fill vacancies across all divisions.
He said the health division will be addressed first and then sports.
“I was advised that sports has about 183 vacancies thereabout.”
He said in infrastructure, the budget based on the subvention received in the national budget is not sufficient to cover the vacancies there.
“We may be up to about 500 vacancies in infrastructure alone, so the instruction is for the union and the division to accomplish at least half of that because half of that in addition to what is at other division would bring some much needed relief in the space.”
Other members of the panel included Deputy Chief Secretary and Secretary of Health, Wellness and Social Protection Dr Faith BYisrael and the Assembly’s Chief Administrator Ethlyn John.