By Lynn Saghir
Today on Labor Day in the USA and in Canada, people love to fire up their grills, head to the beach, go out camping, or catch up on some well-deserved rest and relaxation. Labor Day in the USA and Canada marks the end of summer and is meant to pay tribute to working men and women.
In Jamaica, Labor Day is held on May 23rd and holds a different meaning. It is still a day where people work hard. A day where people go out together into the streets to volunteer their time and labor for community service projects. Together they build roads, houses, help others in need, and share a meal. It is a day of pride, community development, and solidarity despite a low growth and a high public debt economy. According to Jamaica Information Service, the three main objectives of Labour Day are enhancing the dignity of labour by improving the environment; inspiring the spirit of community development; and encouraging the principle of solidarity by working, building and sharing together. This year on labour day, East Rural ST. Andrew Residents joined forces to patch the most badly deteriorated sections of the Dublin Castle road and other thoroughfares for which Caribbean Cement Company Limited supplied 250 bags of cement. Member of Parliament for the area, the Most Hon. Juliet Holness told JIS News “the projects were wide-ranging and included road repairs in Dublin Castle, Penny Hill, and Top Road”.
Photo by Rudranath Fraser featuring wife of the Prime Minister and Member of Parliament for East Rural St. Andrew, the Most Hon. Juliet Holness (centre), joining residents in preparing a concrete mixture for the patching of roads in Dublin Castle on Labour Day, May 23.
In unity with the people of Jamaica, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) continues to support the private sector in Jamaica and other Caribbean countries. It provided 510M USD over a four-year period to improve the investment climate and to restore confidence in the Jamaican economy.
In Guyana, the IDB, the Government of Guyana, and the Caribbean Development Bank are also funding a road expansion that seeks to improve efficiency and safety of road transportation and bridges for approximately 30.7 kilometers of the West Coast by 2018. The West Coast Demerara Road Improvement Project is 75 percent complete according to Senior Projects Engineer at the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Kester Hinds. It includes bridge replacements and repairs, drainage and road safety works, pavement markings and safety barriers along severe curves. A significant portion of the work including final overlaying, construction of road shoulders and grading of pavements for cyclists and pedestrians are being carried out by Jamaican engineering companies.
Also, on road safety, the IDB and the ITF/OECD are working in collaboration to foster a twinning initiative between Jamaica and the UK to facilitate the sharing of best practices in road safety data systems. The twinning aims to provide stakeholders in Jamaica with a source of quality technical advice and assistance for the improvement of crash data systems and the use of data to inform road safety interventions.
Jamaica has embarked on a bold reform program with the help of the IDB. Its reform program is beginning to bear fruit. Economic growth looks set to have accelerated. In 4 years, the country reduced its debt by 16% as of 2016 and the overall real GDP growth is expected to rise by another 1% this year.
About the author
Lynn Saghir is a Creative Director for the Caribbean at the IDB. Prior to that, she worked as a design, communications and marketing specialist at the World Bank. Lynn earned her Bachelor Degree in Graphic Design at the American University of Beirut, an MBA and a Masters in Management from the Ecole Supérieure de Commerce de Paris (ESCP). She has created a board game and founded the fashion brand Lylus. She received two Community Management certificates from the World Bank where she was awarded for high quality work, collaboration, commitment, and engagement.