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Ban On Parties Still in Effect

The ban on parties and related gatherings as per the Disaster Risk Management Act (DRMA) will remain during the holiday period.

“I wish to reiterate that the ban on parties and related gatherings, such as round-robins, gate parties and so on, are still in effect,” stated Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Honourable Desmond McKenzie during a recent address in the House of Representatives.

“No permits will be issued for any such events by the Municipal Corporations or the police. Any breaches will be dealt with in keeping with the Disaster Risk Management Act.”
He noted that the public health emergency created by COVID-19 cannot be ignored despite the decline in the positivity rate and the number of people hospitalised with the virus.
“I therefore appeal to everyone to be responsible, and to remember that after Christmas, comes the new year. We want the New Year to continue on the trajectory of improvement, so Jamaica can continue the process of returning to normal.”

The ban was placed on the staging of parties and events in 2020 as part of the Government’s measures to reduce the transmission of COVID-19.

Last December, Minister McKenzie revealed that more than 300 illegal events were still being held weekly across the country in breach of the health and safety protocols. There were also venues registered as restaurants operated as nightclubs, in addition to nightclubs being run under the disguise of restaurants.

NSWMA gets more resources for the festive season

KINGSTON, Jamaica: The National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) will boost its operations with additional sweepers as well as private dumper and garbage trucks, in anticipation of the increased volume of solid waste during the holidays.

 

“The Ministry will be allocating an additional J$20 million to the National Solid Waste Management Authority. The NSWMA will be assigning an additional 500 sweepers to clean town centres across the island. Moreover, 300 private dumper trucks will be deployed throughout the country to assist in this public cleansing drive, which will include the removal of bulky waste.”

 

The announcement was made by Minister of Local Government and Rural Development on December 14. He was speaking in the House of Representatives on measures being implemented to ensure public order across the island as it enters the Christmas season.

 

“It is expected that these measures will also help to further reduce the backlog of solid waste that our citizens are experiencing in some parts of the country. Significant work has already been done to decrease the volume of accumulated waste, and this initiative will accelerate that process, as well as ensure that whatever is generated during the holidays is properly managed,” the Minister added.

 

“This special initiative is receiving the personal attention of the Executive Director of the NSWMA, who is spearheading the cleansing of mini-dumps in a number of areas, including Montego Bay and Downtown Kingston. These dumps will be opened until midnight, and in a number of selected areas, garbage will be collected up to 11 pm.”

 

He also acknowledged the patience of the many citizens, who have been inconvenienced by the pile-up of garbage. Minister McKenzie also appealed for persons- especially business operators – to be considerate and responsible in the disposal of their litter.

 

“I am warning the commercial sector that we have the mechanisms in place to identify where the garbage is generated and we are prepared to take the strongest actions to ensure that we get full compliance,” emphasized the Minister, whose portfolio responsibility includes the NSWMA.

 

 

The Minister mentioned too that work has commenced to obtain new garbage trucks, subject to the availability of funds. It is expected that these new units will be on the streets in the latter part of next year.

Face-to-face visits resumes at Infirmaries and Golden Age Homes

The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) has announced a raft of protocols for face-to-face visits at the island’s Infirmaries and Golden Age Homes from December 19, 2021 to January 2, 2022.

“The society is gradually and carefully being reopened… and today, I am pleased to announce to the country that following due consideration and consultation; protocols have now been established for face-to-face visits at our Infirmaries and Golden Age Homes for a limited period,” Portfolio Minister, Honourable Desmond McKenzie announced during a statement to the Houses of Representatives on Tuesday, December 14.

“I want to make it clear that visitors will not physically enter the residential spaces in the Infirmaries. They will meet their loved ones in the therapeutic parks that have been established at most of these institutions. In other Infirmaries that currently have no therapeutic parks, special areas will be established to facilitate visitors.”

An immediate ban was placed on visits to Infirmaries and Golden Age Homes in March 2020 when the first COVID-19 case infection was reported in Jamaica.

The island was also declared a Disaster Area in keeping with the Disaster Risk Management Act following recommendation by the MLGRD.

“One of the reasons for doing that was to ensure that we threw a blanket of protection around our citizens who would be most vulnerable to the virus, in this case our elderly population,” Minister McKenzie added.

“These quick, decisive and thorough actions have worked. Painfully, we lost a few of our seniors, but we have saved the lives of the overwhelming majority and maintained high standards of care.”

Both staff and service providers who have had to interact with Infirmaries and Golden Age Homes go through a rigorous series of health and sanitation protocols.

However, the human connection that is also critical to the health of the seniors was interrupted. Last December, the Ministry partnered with Digicel Jamaica to

introduce the ‘Physically Distant But Virtually Connected’ initiative which saw residents interacting with their loved ones via technology.

“I have messages and letters from so many relatives, who want to know when will be the first opportunity, they will have to see their loved ones, whom they haven’t seen in nearly two years.,” noted the Minister.

The protocols established for face-to-face visits at the Infirmaries and Golden Age Homes are:

  1. Visitors to the Infirmaries and Golden Age Homes are required to make an appointment in advance.
  2. Visits will last for no more than 30 minutes, and each resident can have no more than three persons per visit.
  3. All visitors must present a negative Covid-19 test that is no more than three days old and must be fully vaccinated. Visitors are also required to show proof of vaccination.
  4. The existing health protocols – such as screening on entry and sanitization at the Infirmaries and Golden Age Homes – will continue to be implemented.

Meanwhile, come January 2022, an announcement will be made regarding the process of admitting new residents to the Infirmaries and Golden Age Homes. The MLGRD has received recommendations from the Ministry of Health and Wellness to guide this process.

Concluded Minister McKenzie: “On another matter, I also want to advise that the Ministry has put arrangements in place to make this Christmas a pleasant experience for our homeless citizens. As we did last year, provisions have been made for meals and access to facilities for the homeless during the Yuletide season”.

Lucea Youth Mayor Cites Citizens’ Resilience as Key To Jamaica’s Post-Covid-19 Recovery

The 2021 Youth Mayor for Lucea, Hanover, Timothy Kent, has cited the resilience of Jamaicans as pivotal to building a stronger country in the post-coronavirus (COVID-19) era.

The 18-year-old, who is a grade 11 student at Rhodes Hall High School in Hanover, topped the five entrants participating in this year’s Hanover Municipal Corporation (HMC) Youth Mayor Competition, which was staged virtually for the first time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In his inaugural address to the Corporation recently, Timothy said despite the devastating effects of COVID-19 over the past 20 months, Jamaica is emerging stronger partly due to the strength and resilience of many citizens.

“The pandemic has both brought out the best in us and exposed [our] ‘fault lines’. Most of all, it has given us a new perspective on longstanding issues, which we will need to address if we are to rebuild… stronger families, stronger communities, a stronger economy and, by extension, a stronger Jamaica,” he emphasised.

While acknowledging that the effects of COVID-19 are likely to be felt for some time, despite signs of Jamaica emerging from the resulting fallout, Timothy maintained that “we must build on the strength, innovativeness and resilience of our people”, whom he described as “the heroes of the Pandemic”.

Timothy, who hails from the community of Santoy in Hanover, aspires to be an accomplished musician, while eying a career in politics.

Chair of the Corporation’s Civic and Community Affairs Committee and Deputy Mayor, Councillor Andria Dehaney-Grant, commended the entrants and their teachers, who assisted with their preparation, for responding to the call to participate in the competition at short notice.

Councillor Dehaney-Grant noted that due to the late start of the 2021/22 academic year in October, participants were given less than three days to prepare their five to seven-minute video presentations on the theme: ‘Local Government at the Forefront of Building Back Stronger’.

She pointed out that although all high schools in the parish were invited, only four responded with 5 students.

The result of the competition also saw Allison Trench of Rusea’s High School emerging Youth Deputy Mayor, and Christopher Campbell, also of Rusea’s; Ashawna Irving of Green Island High School; and Rachel Coach of Hopewell High School being selected Youth Councillors.

HMC Chairman and Mayor of Lucea, Councillor Sheridan Samuels first commended the students for the high standard of their presentations which he said did not reveal the short time within which they were prepared.

He encouraged them to stay focused, pursue higher education “and… really aspire to reach your goals [in life].”

The Youth Mayor Competition was staged as part of the activities marking Local Government Month in November.

 

Discussions On For Construction Of Energy-Efficient Buildings

(JIS) – Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Hon. Desmond McKenzie, has said that the government is engaging construction industry stakeholders regarding the development of more energy-efficient buildings that would serve to reduce Jamaica’s fuel bill.

Noting that the matter was “under consideration”, Mr. McKenzie said it required the engagement of the wider industry and advised that, “those discussions have commenced”.

The Minister indicated that industry stakeholders have also been in discussions with at least one local authority, the Kingston and St. Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC), on the matter.

He was speaking during Monday’s (November 1) press conference for the seventh semi-virtual Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas and the Caribbean (RP21), at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston.

Mr. McKenzie informed that steps have been initiated to ensure that new buildings are equipped with energy-saving features for, among other things, water harvesting.

He further indicated that all municipal buildings being constructed are required to be energy-efficient in terms of electricity and water supply, to reduce the associated costs.

“So, the government is leaning towards that, and we are doing that with our infirmaries as a start,” the Minister said.

Meanwhile, Mr. McKenzie said a strong and effective local government system was necessary in the quest towards disaster risk reduction.

He noted that Jamaica has a robust system comprising, among other stakeholders, parish disaster coordinators in all 14 parishes.

“We have a network of volunteers [who] can [indicate which] communities are vulnerable [and which] areas are prone to flooding,” the Minister further informed, while highlighting the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management’s (ODPEM) role in the process.

“So… I would recommend to my fellow brothers and sisters within the region that an effective local government system can help, in many ways, in the fight against disasters,” Mr. McKenzie said.

The four-day conference, which runs from November 1-4, is being jointly hosted by the Jamaica Government, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) Regional Office for the Americas and the Caribbean, and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).

COVID-19 Embraced In Planning And Execution Of Regional Platform

(JIS) – The effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic have been embraced in the planning and execution of the Seventh Regional Platform instead of being viewed as obstacles, says the Chief of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) Secretariat for the Americas, Raul Salazar.

He told JIS News that discussions were held with the Government of Jamaica, hosts of the Seventh Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas and the Caribbean, on how to reprogramme the event once the COVID-19 pandemic reached the Caribbean.

“Jamaica remained very committed to the initial pledge to carry out the platform and once the date was defined, then the advisory council started to revise the agenda and decide which topics would be addressed.  COVID-19, which is a biological hazard, immediately became the centre of discussions,” he noted.

Mr. Salazar said that incorporating COVD-19 into the discussions on disaster risk reduction was not difficult because this type of hazard is covered in the Sendai Framework and is impacting all 35 countries in the region.

“We had discussions on how countries were prepared to address a hazard of this nature, reflecting on the capabilities of systems to address this situation, and how the Regional Platform would become a space for the country representatives to discuss what would be the future. These discussions include how disaster risk reduction could be addressed within the context of a pandemic that has started the process of systemic risk [assessment],” said Mr. Salazar.

He noted that systemic risk refers to the negative impacts of the health pandemic on other sectors like tourism and education, and on unemployment and gross domestic product (GDP).

COVID-19 has been incorporated into the four-day Regional Platform, with sessions examining topics such as ‘A regional approach to coordination on multi-hazards: 2020 lessons from the Caribbean’, ‘Strengthening Disaster Risk Governance: Lessons from COVID-19’, and ‘Achievements and challenges of risk governance in the context of the COVID-19 Pandemic. The case of Uruguay’.

At the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston, where the Regional Platform hybrid sessions are been conducted, local COVID-19 protocols are also being observed with social distancing across several session viewing rooms, mask wearing and the daily logging of temperatures of participants.

The Seventh Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction is being hosted by the Government of Jamaica from November 1 to 4 on the virtual platform, Hopin.

It is organised in partnership with the UNDRR and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency.

Minister Emphasises Importance of Int’l Cooperation in Disaster Risk Reduction

 Local Government and Rural Development Minister, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, has joined with international voices in underscoring the importance of regional and international cooperation in disaster risk reduction.

International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction (IDDRR) is observed annually on October 13 and the 2021 edition will focus on ‘International Cooperation for Developing Countries to Reduce their Disaster Risk and Disaster Losses’.

Minister McKenzie acknowledged and again expressed gratitude for the support of international partners and reaffirmed Jamaica’s commitment to its role as one of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency’s subregional focal points.

“Jamaica remains grateful for the continued cooperation of our international partners, who have bolstered our disaster risk reduction planning and implementation and our recovery efforts,” he said.

“When you think about the provision of manpower, training, donation of equipment and of a monetary kind, we are looking at our partners in the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, the European Union, the United States Embassy in Kingston, the Canadian High Commission and the Government of Japan, just to name a few. And being in the position we are, Jamaica offers similar assistance to our Caribbean brothers and sisters and we will continue to do so to reduce our combined disaster risk and losses,” the Minister continued.

This sentiment echoes that of Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, Mami Mizutori, who in a UNDRR statement on IDDRR said: “UN Member States were absolutely right to include international cooperation to developing countries as one of the seven targets when the Sendai Framework was adopted in 2015. Only together can we make true progress towards a safer and more resilient planet.”

Minister McKenzie shared that in light of upcoming discussions and the level of disaster risk faced by the region, the focus of IDDRR is timely.

“It is without a doubt that disaster recovery can be a long and difficult road, particularly for developing countries like those in the Caribbean. International and regional cooperation plays a critical role in that recovery, which is why this year’s focus for IDDRR is apt, especially with Jamaica hosting the seventh Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas and the Caribbean from November 1 to 4. Our losses and recovery from disasters, as a region, will be examined and discussed there,” he said.

The Regional Platform is being hosted by a Caribbean country for the first time and will commence with its preparatory event, the inaugural Youth Forum for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas and the Caribbean, on October 26.

The Youth Forum is an addition of the Minister. For more information visit https://rp-americas.undrr.org

Local Government Minister Announces That No Spectators Will Be Allowed to Attend Jamaica’s World Cup Qualifying Match This Sunday

Football fans will not be able to be physically present at Jamaica’s World Cup qualifying match between Jamaica and Canada, scheduled for Sunday, October 10 at the National Stadium. Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, has announced that due to the need to maintain close management of COVID-19, this match will be closed to the public.

“The Government cannot facilitate large gatherings for any purpose at this time, as we are still managing the public health crisis imposed by the pandemic. As the Minister responsible for the enforcement of the Disaster Risk Management Act and Orders, I wish to advise the public that no exemptions will be granted in respect of the upcoming World Cup qualifying game on October 10. No spectator, vaccinated or unvaccinated, will be allowed into the Stadium. Additionally, the public is reminded that under the current Disaster Risk Management Order, Sunday is a No Movement day. The protocols that I announced in May, which permitted the resumption of Club football under clearly defined conditions remain in place. I therefore expect the Jamaica Football Federation to be duly guided in its management of this World Cup fixture.“

“I am a football fan, and I fully understand why there would be calls for spectators to be present to cheer the Reggae Boyz on, but this cannot be allowed now. I ask that all the supporters of our national team tune in and enjoy the game remotely. The Government is managing the resumption of sport in a phased, orderly manner, consistent with the reduction in the country’s positivity rate. The impact of sport on social well-being and social development is well recognized, and the Administration will support all efforts to promote the enjoyment of sport in the safest way possible.

Local Govt Minister pledges support for late Ocho Rios firefighters

OCHO RIOS, St. Ann: The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development has committed support to the families of the two firefighters who died in a motor vehicle crash in St. Ann on September 13.

“I will be doing everything in my power to ensure that their families receive the best possible support. We will do what is necessary to ensure that the families are not too stressed too much in terms of all that is necessary,” stated Minister Desmond McKenzie during a visit to the Ocho Rios Fire Station in St. Ann on September 17.

“I am giving them the full assurance that I will work closely with the Commissioner (of Fire Stewart Beckford) to ensure that that is done.”

Young firefighters Alex Williams and Stephan Walters died in a crash along the Laughlands Main Road, St. Ann after transporting another colleague home. The men had just ended their work shift at the Ocho Rios Fire Station.

“This is a tragedy in every sense. They were young, hardworking Firefighters. When you put their ages together, it amounts to less than fifty years. I have been meeting with Stefan and Alex’s relatives and assured them of the prayerful support of the Jamaica Fire Brigade,” Commissioner Beckford said at the time of their passing.

The Minister also used the visit to express sympathies to the colleagues of the late firefighters. He added that the incident has highlighted the need for logistical support to firefighters working long hours to mitigate against further loss of life.

“I think the occasion is right to engage the leadership of the brigade in some discussion as to how we treat with situations that will prevent firefighters after completing long shifts to get home without them having to be sitting behind a wheel and driving, It is a discussion that has already started with the Commissioner and I intend to have the Board (of Directors) engage some more to see how this can be done.”

Assistant Commissioner in charge of Area 2, Julian Davis-Buckle, who was present during Minister McKenzie’s visit, also shared that the colleagues of Firefighters Williams and Walters have been undergoing grief counselling through the kind efforts of the Ministers Fraternal in the parishes of St. Ann and St. Mary.

Local Government Minister Expresses Great Sadness at the Deaths of Two Firefighters

Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Hon. Desmond McKenzie, has expressed shock and sadness at the tragic passing of firefighters Stefan Walters and Alex Williams, who were killed in a traffic accident along the Laughland Main Road in St. Ann last night. They were assigned to the Ocho Rios Fire Station. 

“Both Firefighters had finished work and were going home after transporting another colleague home, when the accident occurred. I am very saddened by this…Firefighter Williams joined the Fire Brigade less than two years ago, and Firefighter Walters gave just over five years of service. I know that the whole JFB family is mourning the loss of these young servicemen, and I want to express my personal condolences to them and to the relatives and friends of Stefan and Alex. They lived lives of great purpose, and now, even as there is grief, we can recall their time on earth with pride.”

Commissioner of the JFB, Stewart Beckford said “this is a tragedy in every sense. They were young, hardworking Firefighters. When you put their ages together, it amounts to less than fifty years. I have been meeting with Stefan and Alex’s relatives, and assured them of the prayerful support of the Jamaica Fire Brigade.