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St Thomas students cry foul... Say ‘bun tyre’ roadblocks set back access to education

POPULARLY TERMED the 'forgotten parish', residents in St Thomas have, for years, been feeling the pinch of underdevelopment, which is most noticeable in the tarnished road network throughout the parish. On Monday and Tuesday, November 6 and 7, respectively, scores of angry residents took to the streets in what can be described as a desperate and riotous cry for help. In a collage of burnt tyres across streets,
debris, old cars and other implements, a clear message was sent via mainstream media that the people have simply had enough of being forgotten.

But for some younger, more vulnerable groups of residents, this attention could not make up for the time lost in accessing a most necessary resource – their education. Nevonnie Pinnock, Miss Teen St Thomas
2017, is one subscriber to this claim. An upper-sixth-form student at St George's College in Kingston, Pinnock says the protest is not a first and has been setting back her commute to and from school whenever it happens. "This has happened on multiple occasions. This time I had graded work to submit and I don't like missing classes, plus I engage in a variety of extra-curricular activities," she said.

She recalls the protest this month as one of the worst she's seen. "On Monday, I was able to get to school because the debris had been removed by police by the time I got there. Getting home was the real challenge, as a number of persons were in the downtown Kingston area unable to get public vehicles to go home."

She said, "Things escalated on Tuesday, with even fires being lit on the roads and at multiple points; buses completely withdrew their service."

The passionate pageant winner, who describes herself as having a passion for advocacy, believes, however, that the protests are not entirely unnecessary. She told Youthlink, "I see it as an indication that nothing has come from the numerous peaceful discussions and meetings, and that the relevant authorities have failed to effect change. The cry is generally for road improvement, but it must be noted that St Thomas is lacking in development on a whole."

In future, Pinnock recommends that advocating for improvement without hindering commuters can be achieved through open forums with members of parliament to see how promises are progressing. "If unsatisfied and hell-bent on protesting, do so by having placards or shirts which clearly state why you are protesting and what it is you want to be done, without blocking the roads," she added. Elsewhere in the parish, Youthlink solicited the views of other students.

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