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NSWMA Boss says Jamaicans will have a Clean Christmas -Entity launches ‘Drum A Di Gate’ Initiative

JIS NEWS, November 19, 2020: Executive Director of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), Audley Gordon, is assuring Jamaicans that adequate preparations are being made to ensure that “they have a clean Christmas”.

Mr. Gordon was speaking to residents of Greenvale in Mandeville, Manchester, at the launch of the NSWMA’s ‘Drum A Di Gate’ initiative, with the distribution of 80 garbage drums to them.

The programme is expected to be taken islandwide as soon as the drums are available, the Executive Director said.

“We don’t have all the drums we need at this time, but COVID-19 will not stop Christmas, and a lot of garbage will be generated. We have already started to look at extended opening hours at disposal sites and we will be looking at additional trips,” Mr. Gordon said.

The Executive Director explained the NSWMA’s approach to guaranteeing a clean holiday season.

“We know what we have to do; we have a history and know exactly where the pressure points are, so Jamaica will have a clean Christmas,” Mr. Gordon said.

He added that in areas such as the market districts, garbage collection would have to continue late into the night.

Mr. Gordon said the ‘Drum A Di Gate’ initiative would enhance the community’s aesthetics and appealed to the residents to use the drums to store their garbage.

He pointed out that when garbage is thrown everywhere, persons seize the opportunity to follow suit, thereby creating many mini dumps.

“It also puts additional stress on our crews when they have to come and clean up, instead of just picking up a drum, emptying it and moving on. The more bogged down a truck gets, the fewer opportunities there are to go to other communities, and turnaround time is affected,” he said.

With the negative effects of recent heavy rainfall now being felt, Mr. Gordon also told the residents that items such as bottles and other items that were not properly disposed of will now float around and block drains, thereby contributing to flooding, hence the importance of not littering.

Operations Director at the NSWMA, Aretha McFarlane, said the 80 drums were donated by the GraceKennedy Group and EdgeChem.

Also addressing the residents, Regional Operations Manager for Southern Parks and Markets, Edward Muir, told the residents that by using the drums they will help to ensure the safety of the workers, one of whom was recently stuck by a needle in garbage that was improperly bagged for disposal.

Mr. Muir underscored the importance of the work crews being able to move at a quicker pace.

“We want to ensure that our schedules are completed on a timely basis. We are losing the time it takes to pull garbage together and pack it in the truck,” he said.

 

Local Government Minister tables temporary amendment to ROPA -Bill will postpone Local Government Elections up to February 2022

KINGSTON, Jamaica: The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development piloted a Bill to amend the Representation of the People Act (ROPA) to effectively postpone the Local Government polls no later than February 2022.

The Bill entitled An Act to Temporarily Modify the Representation of the People Act was tabled in the House of Representatives.

The postponement is due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its adverse economic conditions which worsened with the recent rains that resulted in widespread damage.

“It is clear that a greater period of time is needed for this recovery process. Accordingly, the Representation of the People Act is being temporarily amended, to facilitate the holding of the next Local Government Elections on a date no later than February 27, 2022,” said Portfolio Minister, Honourable Desmond McKenzie in his address to Parliament on Tuesday.

“As the Minister responsible for Local Government, and a member of the Government led by the Most Honourable Prime Minister, I wish to assure the House and the country of our commitment to having the next Local Government Elections, the 13th since Independence, within this amended timeframe.”

Local Government Elections were last held on November 28, 2016 when Councillors for 228 parochial divisions and the Mayor of Portmore were elected to serve at the local level.

The 8th Schedule to the Local Governance Act provides a period of extension of 90 days commencing on the day after the fourth anniversary of the date on which the most recent election was held.  This means that without the amendment, the next Local Government Elections were to be held no later than February 27, 2021.

Minister McKenzie emphasized that the Government is fully engaged in managing the COVID-19 pandemic that heavily disrupted the economy and society.

“The primary focus is still that of observing the health and safety protocols and keeping infection rates as low as possible. In addition to this, the Government continues to respond to the effects of the adverse weather systems of the past few weeks, which has seen extensive damage to our road network. The damage to parochial roads alone is estimated at J$1.5 billion,” he added.

“The Meteorological Service has advised that the forecast is for more rains past the end of the Atlantic Hurricane Season at the end of November, right into early 2021. The cost of staging elections at this time is also a major factor Madame Speaker, as the Government is responding to these realities in the context of financial constraints especially caused by COVID-19.”

 

NSWMA Ready To Proceed With Work On Waste Disposal Site At Winchester In St. Thomas

JIS NEWS Nov. 17, 2020- Executive Director of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), Audley Gordon, says the agency is ready to proceed with work on the proposed waste disposal site at Winchester in St. Thomas.

This, he informed, will replace the existing facility at Church Corner in the parish capital, Morant Bay.

Mr. Gordon told JIS News that preliminary activities, including acquisition of the targeted 12-acre property in Winchester at a cost of approximately $23 million to accommodate the new landfill, have been largely completed.

He said the preparatory engagements also included consultations with key State stakeholders, including the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), National Works Agency (NWA), Water Resources Authority (WRA), Mines and Geology Division, and the St. Thomas Municipal Corporation.

“Representatives of these entities visited the new site and found it suitable for the landfill. So, we have had the go-ahead from all the major agencies that were consulted to proceed,” the Executive Director added.

Mr. Gordon said that the NSWMA is ready to commence the project, pointing out that “once the funds have been identified and earmarked, we will move decisively”.

He advised that the project is expected to cost approximately $267.9 million, adding that the budget was submitted to the Authority’s parent Ministry, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, for approval.

“We have already communicated with our [Portfolio] Minister [Hon. Desmond McKenzie], our [NSWMA] Board, and we are all on the same page, in terms of the approach to the development,” the Executive Director added.

The proposed relocation was initially disclosed by Minister McKenzie during a presentation in March to the Standing Finance Committee of the House of Representatives, whose members were deliberating on the 2020/21 Estimates of Expenditure.

The Church Corner waste disposal site, which is within proximity to the Morant Bay roundabout and Bustamante Bridge in St. Thomas, is being removed in light of stakeholder concerns over the potential environmental and health hazards it poses, particularly in light of the facility reaching its capacity earlier in the year.

Mr. Gordon said this prompted the NSWMA to seek an alternative location, which led to their identifying the Winchester property.

He pointed out, however, that with the Church Corner site having peaked its capacity and development of the new landfill not yet under way, the NSWMA was forced to remove 400 truckloads of refuse from that location to the Riverton waste disposal site in Kingston, in order to create space for its continued use.

Mr. Gordon said that while this was the most practical solution, under the circumstances, “we really want to have a facility in St. Thomas that can adequately deal with solid waste disposal across the parish”.

Against this background, the Executive Director said the proposed new facility will be “more than adequate” to fulfil this goal.

“We have the land that can be used to build out a big facility. We probably won’t use more than four or five acres in the initial stages. But, if necessary, we can expand the landfill down the road,” he told JIS News.

He further advised that the property will be fenced to ensure the location is adequately secured and can be properly monitored.

Mr. Gordon said the new disposal site will also benefit residents of several communities in eastern Portland that are near Winchester, such as Manchioneal and Long Road.

“It would be cost-effective and feasible… than to haul garbage from those areas all the way to Buff Bay as now obtains. The communities in both parishes are in proximity to the border, so it would be better for us.” he added.

Mr. Gordon said the NSWMA will continue stakeholder consultations, particularly at the community level with residents, in the lead-up to the project’s commencement.

“The NSWMA is delighted, and I know that the residents of St. Thomas will be very happy to know that we have a location for a new waste disposal site, one that will redound to their benefit and help to safeguard the environment,” he said.

The Executive Director said the NSWMA noted stakeholder concerns regarding the Church Corner landfill, “and we thank the people for their patience, under the circumstances”.

“We just look forward to the time when we can finally clear that area [at Church Corner] and move into that better location in Winchester,” Mr. Gordon added.

Local Gov’t Ministry Conducting Minor Water Supplies Audit

JIS NEWS Nov. 17, 2020 – The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development is conducting an audit of minor water supplies islandwide, in furtherance of improvement measures outlined in the National Water Sector Policy and Implementation Plan 2019.

Two of the measures regard rehabilitation and maintenance of community catchment tanks, and strengthening the capacity of households and entities to utilise rainfall harvesting to augment water supply.

Speaking at the third Water Policy and Monitoring Branch Virtual Information Session, on November 12, Director of Roads and Minor Water Supplies in the Ministry, Barrington Clarke, shared details of the undertaking, for which a pilot was conducted in St. Ann in relation to the catchment tanks component.

He noted that there is a total of 274 catchment tanks islandwide that are under the purview of local authorities.
Manchester and St. Ann account for the largest number of tanks, with 64 and 62 respectively. Portland has 22, while Hanover has 16.

Mr. Clarke acknowledged that while Portland and Hanover receive the most rainfall annually, those parishes do not have the most catchment tanks.

“So [going] forward, as part of the Water Sector Policy, our intention is to have additional tanks constructed in these parishes and to have the non-functional tanks rehabilitated,” he informed.

The Director further pointed out that while some of the overall number of tanks are in a better condition than others, it is intended, over time, to have them all functioning optimally.

Mr. Clarke said the lack of catchment tanks in urban areas is not lost on Water Sector Policy stakeholders, adding that solutions are being explored.

“We find that [the areas] where we have catchment tanks are in deep remote and rural areas. Where we have our greater water challenges, which is in our urban and developed areas, we don’t have these systems in place. It is a contrast that we will have to integrate in how we go about our construction practices,” he stated.

Mr. Clarke further indicated that “we have to wholly acknowledge that climate change is an issue and we are having greater shortages of rainfall; as such, when the rain does fall, we capture and store some of that water for use”.

The Director pointed out that the smallest of the local authorities’ catchment tanks collects up to 15,000 gallons of water, with larger ones being able to hold more than 30,000 gallons.

He said harvested rainwater captured to augment regulated supplies and address the commodity’s shortage, can be implemented in areas with greater need.

Mr. Clarke also shared that the Local Government Ministry has been actively engaged in promoting rainwater harvesting.

“Section 61 of the Building Act, 2018 speaks to rainwater harvesting and the Ministry is actively reviewing the draft regulations that are to be submitted,” he further informed.

The Director said another aspect of the rainwater harvesting thrust is to have the process incorporated in all buildings owned and operated by municipal corporations.

“As a way forward, the intention is to have rainwater harvesting promoted as a condition of approval in the construction permit process,” he said.

Rainwater harvesting techniques have been incorporated in the recent construction of the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation, the St. Ann Drop-in Centre and the Manchester Infirmary.

Local Government and Rural Development Minister Tables Parliamentary Motion to Make Portmore Jamaica’s Fifteenth Parish

Having promised to take steps to make the Portmore Municipality Jamaica’s fifteenth parish, the Government has started the official process to make it happen.

On Tuesday November 3, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, tabled a Motion in the House of Representatives to empower Parliament to consider and report on this important proposal. The Motion calls for a Joint Select Committee to be formed to deliberate on the benefits of making Portmore a parish, and for that Joint Select Committee to have the authority to invite submissions from any stakeholders considered relevant to the process.

A Joint Select Committee is comprised of Members of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

The Local Government and Rural Development Minister says the size and special features of Portmore make it suitable to be a parish. “This is the largest dormitory community in the Caribbean, with hundreds of thousands of inhabitants. Apart from the sheer numbers of people who live there, the space contains attractions, emerging social amenities and a wide variety of businesses, educational and religious institutions that give it a special sense of identity. That is why you hear terms like “Sunshine City” when Portmore is mentioned.

“In campaigning for a renewed mandate earlier this year, this Administration formally promised the people through our party’s Manifesto that given all the unique features of Portmore, and our desire to structure its development in a sustainable way that will benefit all its residents, that we will make it a parish. Two months after the elections, we have begun the process of delivering on this commitment.”

The Local Government and Rural Development Minister said he has no doubt that the people of Portmore are eagerly anticipating this development. “There have been discussions about doing something special for Portmore for many years, even before it was made a Municipality in 2003. I lived in Portmore for many years, and I can attest to the fact that the residents see themselves in a special way, have a special sense of belonging to the area, and are looking forward to this form of civic, cultural and economic development.”

Minister of Local Government Announces New Director-General of The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management

Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie has announced the appointment of Mr. Leslie Harrow as the new Director-General of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), effective Monday, November 2.

“Mr. Harrow brings to the leadership of the ODPEM over 23 years of service in the public sector, including over 18 in various strategic, logistical and other organizational leadership capacities in the Electoral Office of Jamaica. I am confident that his skills and experience will serve the Agency and the country well. He assumes office at a particularly busy time, as the ODPEM discharges its responsibilities in the midst of the current, intense weather systems. I also wish to place on record my appreciation to the Acting Director-General of the Agency, Mr. Richard Thompson, who will now revert to his substantive role as Deputy Director-General.

“As Jamaica’s disaster management Agency, the ODPEM has been a critical part of the process of protecting the people of Jamaica for over 40 years, and will continue to be an essential institution as we work to manage and recover from the effects of COVID-19, as well as climatic events.”

 

Contact: Communications Unit

Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development

61 Hagley Park Road

Kingston 10

Tel: 876-618-7360-1

Ministry Extends Junior Councils’ Tenure

KINGSTON, Jamaica: The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development has extended the tenure of the current Junior Council for another year.

The Junior Council Programme forms part of the activities for Local Government and Community Month, which is observed annually in November.

“This is due to the current Covid-19 pandemic which has prevented them from accomplishing any of their projects for the tenure. Also, the practicing of social distancing in schools has made the recruitment of process extremely difficult at this time,” said Permanent Secretary Marsha Henry Martin.

The Junior Council is made up of Youth Mayor in each Municipal Corporation and are supported by Junior Councillors akin to the number of parochial divisions in each parish.

The Programme provides an avenue for young people to play their part in the transformation of their communities and educate citizens about the importance of local government.

The Permanent Secretary has also advised the chief executive officers in each Municipality to have the Junior Councils explore the creation of an “easy to read” Local Government Manual as part of their main project. The manual is to explain the role and function of local government within the community and society; as well as the organizational structure that explains the distinction between the political directorate and the administrative arm.

“This would be a signal achievement as it has never been done before and it can be used by municipal corporations islandwide especially since local government now forms part of the Grade 5 curriculum. They could also do virtual presentations and share electronic copies with schools,” Mrs. Henry Martin added.

The Ministry also increased the funds allocated to each Junior Council last November.  The allocation, which is used for the Councils’ projects, was increased to $750,000 from $500,000.

Minister of Local Government Mourns the Death Of Councilor for The Fellowship Division, Irvin Brown

Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, has expressed profound sadness at the death of Councillor for the Fellowship Division in Portland, Mr. Irvin Brown. Councillor Brown died on Tuesday after battling COVID-19 in hospital.

“It is a bitter loss to the people of Fellowship, a loss to the people of Eastern Portland and also to the elected representatives and administrative officers of the Portland Municipal Corporation. Irvin was a committed, industrious and pleasant person who people not only highly respected, but deeply loved.

“When we were preparing for the Local Government elections in 2016 and evaluating our candidates for that contest, there was no question that Irvin Brown was the man that the people of Fellowship wanted. Moreover, he had the leadership skills that are critical to the higher quality of local representation that the Ministry of Local Government is developing around the country. Having won the Division, Irvin started implementing his vision with great passion and seriousness, and it was my personal joy to have worked very closely with him. His representation was instrumental to the decision to install a new swing bridge at Ginger House in November last year, and now over 1,500 people in and around that district are better off. Ironically, it was just weeks ago that we toured a COVID-19 facility in the parish.

 

“My sadness at his departure is all the deeper because I know that he had much more to give. In four short years, he made a deep and lasting impression on everyone, and he is being sorely missed. On behalf of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, and on behalf of the Jamaica Labour Party, I express deepest condolences to his family. We feel their loss, and while he has gone far too soon, we feel assured that he is resting in peace.”

Provision of houses for the indigent remains a priority – Minister McKenzie

The provision of houses for the indigent remains a priority for the Local Government and Rural Development Ministry, says Minister, Hon. Desmond McKenzie.

Speaking at a ceremony to welcome the new Minister of State, Hon. Homer Davis, at the Ministry on September 22, Mr. McKenzie said that work is far advanced on a number of projects for the indigent.

“We are expecting the soup kitchen at Church Street (Kingston) to be up and running by the end of this month (September). They have just concluded the procurement for the equipment and we are looking forward to that.

There are two indigent houses and a drop-in facility that is to be opened later this month in St. Thomas,” the Minister said.

The Secretary of the Board of Supervision within the Ministry announced the addition of a soup kitchen on Church Street in July, to sustain the feeding programme the Government started earlier this year for the vulnerable population.

Mr. McKenzie had also announced the Government’s plans to build 100 houses across the island for the indigent, with 12 projected to be completed before the end of the 2020/2021 financial year. These will be concentrated within St. Andrew.

“I will be breaking ground in West Central St. Andrew in short order, where we are going to commence building out about 12 indigent houses and then I will move into the South West St. Andrew constituency to do a similar project, but in a reduced number. So, we will be concentrating in St. Andrew in this new set of indigent houses that we are going to be providing,” the Minister said.

He highlighted the improvement of infrastructure at infirmaries, the construction of drop-in facilities and work done to improve the conditions of the poor and destitute as the “signature achievement of the Ministry” in the last four years.

The Minister noted that although the Ministry has undergone a name change, it still retains the overall responsibility for community development, and its affiliate agency, the Social Development Commission (SDC), will play a critical role in the Ministry’s new focus on rural development.