Janet Silvera intensifies calls to PM over CRH crisis| The story behind Silvera’s glory

Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI) President, Janet Silvera, has intensify calls to Prime Minister (PM) to rectify the long-standing chaotic situation at the Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH), a facility she said is in great need by the citizens of Montego Bay.

Her first address to the PM on this matter was made in recent weeks at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) held on June 23rd.

However, in a Mckoy’s exclusive interview on Wednesday, Ms. Silvera said following the recent reopening of the country, the MBCCI has resume and increase its calls to Prime Minister to fix the existing problems at CRH and other areas of Montego Bay city.

 “We are back on track with calling on the Prime Minister to intervene in relation to the situation that now exists at the Cornwall Regional Hospital. We feel that the many tourism workers in this city, the many citizens of Montego Bay, deserve proper healthcare facilities. When are we getting back a facility that will serve the citizens of Montego Bay, so that so many of us will not have to resort to urgent healthcare elsewhere? And those of us who can’t find money to pay for urgent care [and] private hospital what happen to those people?” the furious president asked.

The president also believed that fire is mounting on this issue because of the lack of communication from the government on the plans for the hospital going forward.

We also believe that the communication is not coming from government in relation to where have we reached? All we’re doing is hearing that we’re three years out, we are how much billion dollars out, but we are not hearing anything as to what’s gonna’ happen next. We [only] know that the first set of money that was spent on the hospital that there was a lot of wastage…a commission of inquiry I believe is the only thing that could tell us where all the money went [and] what really happened,” a  fired-up Silvera suggested.

In concluding on the issue of CRH and the city of Mobay, the MBCCI president is optimistic about the PM’s choice in making this an urgent matter as she described him as ‘a sensible man.’

“I believe that the Prime Minister is a very sensible man and he will see that this is very critical to the city. This is a city that has been very good to the Prime Minister and on and that basis I believe that his intervention will show the people of Montego Bay, that he means them well;” she concluded.

With the pandemic still lurking and a number of plans from governmental sectors being derailed or postponed, Mckoy’s News also inquired about new plans by the MBCCI that may have been affected as a result of the virus.

 “The only plans that we had that may have been derailed was a Crime Summit and we are back on track with that. We are discussing it with a major sponsor right now. We believe that Montego Bay needs a summit that will look at how we are affected by the scourge of crime;” stated Silvera.

 

However, with the recent loosening of the Covid and curfew measures by the government, she pointed out areas in which the tourism industry and business community have been capitalizing on the ‘freedom’ granted to boost productivity level in the city.

 “Well already…the hotels that are members…and even those that are not members of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce are capitalizing on the fact that there has been a lot of pent-up need for travel. So our hotels and the airport itself have seen significant increase in the number of tourist that would come in and we’re near our 2019 numbers for the same period right now; so we are very excited. The challenge that some of these hoteliers, transportation operators…are facing, many people when the pandemic came went into other areas of businesses and so they are working hard to get back some of those people to come back into the industry;” said Ms.. Silvera.

On that note, she stated that “if those persons don’t come back,” she would encouraged persons to start applying for work in the tourism industry as there are now positions there to be filled.

Following tourism minister’s, Edmund Bartlett’s recent announcement that 80 per cent of the tourism workers have resumed working, our news team asked the president to describe the current business state of the city and its citizens now in comparison to the Covid-19 lockdown period.

“Tourism workers have gone back to work and…there is hope for them because before they went back to work, you would hear from them, they would be complaining…that they are not sure about what is going to happen to their lives. For instance, the craft merchants, not directly employed to any hotel but…they are small business operators would’ve told you that they are suffering [but] the St. James Municipal Council was kind to them and gave them a moratorium in relation to the amount of rent that they would pay but they too have not heard any cries coming from that sector. So it would seem as if the tourists are also back in the market;” she explained.

“We’d hear the cry from the restaurants…particularly from some of them that are located on the Hip Strip and if you pass Margaritaville…you will see… life on a whole has returned to the Jimmy Cliff Boulevard;” she further stated with great amusement.     

HOW THE MBCCI HAS BEEN REPRESENTING ‘MONTEGONIANS’ DURING THE PANDEMIC

In regards to the MBCCI being recognized locally and internationally as the ‘strong voice for the people of Montego Bay,’ Ms. Silvera wants to remind the public that that’s exactly what the entity represents and in a time of crisis such as the Covid pandemic, that ‘strong voice’ have been reaching out for the people of the city.

“We are a lobby group, we hope at all times to hold our elected representatives accountable that is what we do. We are not an organization that beautifies a city. We are business operators who want to ensure that the city is in sync and will help to lift our businesses; so if the city is thriving, our businesses will thrive… So if we see something going wrong that could affect how we operate as businesses, then we speak about it;” the president firmly highlighted.

She also pointed out many other critical areas that the sector has been relentlessly lobbying for such as, “the importance of having a bypass road…the reduction of crime…having a first class hospital in the city and proper communication.”

As a result of the group’s effort, one of their calls will be answered in short order, as Ms. Silvera informed Mckoy’s News that a meeting with the Office of the Utilities Regulation (OUR), is slated for next week Wednesday.

In relation to the mechanisms put in place by the MBCCI to assist and restore business operations in the busy city in regards to the Covid-19 impact, Ms. Silvera said the MBCCI has been representing the business community from the country was firstly impacted.

“When it just started we sent out a lot of information to our members as to how they could ensure that they kept themselves and their staff safe…We were big on ensuring that all our members were aware of what the protocols were and we went further by doing a mass campaign, downtown Montego Bay where we went out and we handed out masks to vendors, people on the streets and we would try to educate them on how important it was…to try and maintain the protocols…that was a big success;” she explained.

The businesswoman further illustrated how the MBCCI assisted businesses to get back on track following the recent loosened Covid and curfew measures, which now allowed for the reopening and rebuilding of small and large companies.

“Going forward…we are planning to do a seminar for our members with the United States Embassy and that seminar is to help persons get back on their feet. [But] one of the first thing we did when the pandemic came, we wrote to the Prime Minister and we wrote to the Minister of Finance and we told them what our members were going through. So if there were any type of stimulus package then our members would’ve benefitted;” said Ms. Silvera.

Despite the Covid cases climbing and the number of related deaths increasing, criminals still seem to be plaguing Montego Bay city and the entire country by extension, with unwanted crime and violence.

However, with the continuous calls from the MBCCI president for more Closed-Circuit cameras in the parish, she said things are now looking ‘hopeful’ for sections of Mobay, as she has recently received a response in relation to a letter sent in regards to these changes. Therefore, she stated that she will remain “hopeful that something will happen out of this.”

SILVERA’S PHILANTHROPIC EFFORTS

Students collecting cheques for scholarships at the Montego Bay City Run presentation in 2018- Filed photo.

Ms. Silvera is heavily involved in community development and through her program the ‘Montego Bay City Run’ which she described in a previous interview as being ‘her most important achievement,’ it has also been severely affected by this pandemic.

The passionate humanitarian founded this program in 2014 with the aim to raise funds in order to assist struggling tertiary level students from Western Jamaica. She has been doing so quite successfully where the program has expanded in raising at least $5 million each year to fund students attending community colleges, UWI and UTech.

However, when Mckoy’s News sought to find out how the program has been operating since the Covid impact, the disheartened founder responded:

 “Badly! It has been severely impacted… we have had students calling us regularly trying to get help but we don’t have the money to help them. It has been very difficult for us to see a student reaching out for assistance and we are not able to do it because we don’t have the money. We have missed out on 2 events. We would normally give out $5million each year on average, to education in Western Jamaica; that means a loss of $10 million in the last two (2) years. We did a virtual run and we raised $100,000;”revealed Ms. Silvera in a spirit of brokenness.

Broken but not shattered, the vibrant and self-driven philanthropist still managed to push through the pandemic and raised over $4 million in tablets through her other charity foundation- ‘Sarah’s Children.’

“However, my other charity…which is ‘Sarah’s Children,’ has helped children right across the country. We gave out over $4 million in tablets over the last nine months and that was not only to students but also to teachers. Plus we gave credit to some of them who could not afford to buy credit;” she positively recalled.

HER GREATEST MOTIVATION| ‘I would pick my hair out and eat it’-Silvera

Janet Silvera

Janet Silvera is a successful scholar who ‘wears many hats,’ achieving several accolades and statuses such as award-winning journalist, president of the Western Jamaica Media Association (WJMA) to now the president of the Montego Bay Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI) and the list continues.

However, her success did not manifest overnight and many would have seen her story and but do not know the motivating factors behind her glory.

As Mckoy’s reporter delve deeper into Ms. Silvera’s past, she revealed that despite her colourful personality and independent drive to achieve success, there is a bigger motivating factor that propelled her growth and numerous achievements.

 “My parents… I watched my father walk to work just so that I could take a taxi to school. The kind of sacrifices that I saw from my parents inspired me to do well. For instance when I was growing up my hair was very short and I don’t know if I had a calcium deficiency but I would pick my hair out and eat it and at one time my mom was scared to send me out to school because of the condition of my hair. After that, she decided to and then she would empower me to believe in myself and to know that even though my hair was short I was beautiful;” Silvera passionately recollected.

“…That always reminded me that I was special; for me, that was all the inspiration that I needed to know that I was somebody special and I grew up thinking that I was special from as early as age 13. I knew this, I knew that I was made for greatness and nobody could tell me any different;” she added with a boost of confidence.

The charged leader continued by highlighting the importance of doing well and making a valuable impact on others.

“That’s how I grew  up knowing that I was gonna’ be somebody who was gonna’ make a change; and then when I realized that I was making changes in people’s lives, it inspired me even further to know that you can’t be on this earth and you leave this earth without making an impact on other people’s lives.”

SILVERA- ‘The classroom was too boring for me’

Ms. Silvera also told Mckoy’s News that she had dreams of becoming a teacher but her bubbling personality would not allow it.

“I was too flamboyant for the class room,” she exclaimed, as she burst out in laughter.

“At three (3) months into my teacher education course, I was in college and I realized that teaching was not for me…the classroom was too boring for me. I was attending school in Kingston- Exed Community College then I switched and came back to Montego Bay and started working with hotel and then I moved on to the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB). Six (6) months on the job I was named ‘Hostess of the year;’ so I really knew what I wanted;” stated Silvera.

 

ONE ‘DID YOU KNOW’ FACT ABOUT JANET SILVERA

With the ‘flamboyant’ personality the senior journalist possesses and the investigative need to explore and be ‘in the know,’ this fun fact about her desires cemented the roots and strong personal features she exuberates.

In a Mckoy’s round-up ‘fun facts’ question, Ms. Silvera was asked to name one fun fact about herself that the public did not know but will now know and with great excitement she expressed:

“I want to live in Africa.”

“I believe that Africa is the most stunning, most awesome, most beautiful place in the world. There is no place like Africa and others have gone there…who did not come from there and have made it their home. They’re making so much of the land and as a Jamaican whose ancestors are from Africa that is where I would like to live when I get older;” she flamboyantly expressed.

However, as an accomplished leader and successful businesswoman, the interview could not have been concluded without a powerful word of encouragement and inspiration from the MBCCI president.

“Never in your lifetime allow anybody to tell you that you can’t do certain things. You have to have faith because faith moves mountains. You have to believe in self, you have to be weary of envy; you must be happy for other people…I continuously lift people, I believe in empowering others…my aim in life at all times is to see my brethren or my sisthren do better every day and so I try to push persons to do so;” Silvera firmly concluded.

 

Natasha Williams- Mckoy’s News Senior Writer

Leave a Reply