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ODPEM announces closure of the Cays

Kingston, Jamaica – The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) has announced the immediate closure of all Cays, with the exception of Morant and Pedro Cays.

The decision was announced following joint discussions between the Ministers of Local Government and Rural Development as well as National Security, and the relevant Municipal Corporation.

The closure order is effective from January 19, 2021 to February 1, 2021.

The ODPEM is reminding the public that no activities should take place at these locations as the Government seek to reduce the risk of spreading the Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) (COVID-19) in the country.

Morant and Pedro Cays are exempted as they fall within a specific legislation that zone those areas for fishing and give stipulations for operation. This designation is contained in the Morant and Pedro Cays Act of 1971 which reads that the Cays “shall, for all purposes other than taxation, be deemed to be within and form part of the parish of Kingston”.

The Jamaica Defence Force Coast Guard and the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s Marine Police will continue to rigorously monitor the Cays and all other locations to enforce the laws and ensure that the public is conforming to the established Covid-19 protocols.

Additionally, the ODPEM is reminding the public to adhere to the rules under the Disaster Risk Management (Enforcement Measures) Order, 2021.

Persons are urged to adhere to the regulations under the Disaster Risk Management Act 2015 and do the following:

  1.        Obey all orders under the Disaster Risk Management Enforcement Orders
    2.        Wear a Mask in all Public Spaces
    3.        Sanitize and or wash your hands as often as possible
    4.        Maintain physical distance of at least 6 feet

JFB Encourages Persons To Report Leaking Fire Hydrants

Acting Assistant Commissioner and Officer in Charge of the Fire Prevention Division of the Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB), Emeleo Ebanks, is encouraging Jamaicans to report any leaking fire hydrants in their communities.

“Once you see water coming from a hydrant, go into the nearest fire station or call the nearest fire station and report it. You can also call us at the JFB headquarters and report it, especially if you are located in Kingston. The easy number to remember is (876) 922-0007,” Mr. Ebanks said, on the JIS Television programme ‘Get the Facts’.

He noted that the information received will be sent to the Fire Prevention Division, adding that the situation will be logged and a team will be dispatched to assess and carry out the repairs.

Mr. Ebanks, who is also the Public Relations Manager of the JFB, emphasised that it is important to report fire hydrants that are not functioning properly.

“If it’s not functioning well, it is not going to serve its purpose, and in the event there is a fire in the particular area and that hydrant is not working properly, it will not be able to assist us and we will not be able to assist you as efficiently as we ought. So, it’s very important that

you report all situations with fire hydrants,” he urged.

Mr. Ebanks is also calling on Jamaicans not to damage or throw anything into any of the fire hydrants.

“We have gone on scenes and are about to couple up the hose on to the hydrant and when you look, there are juice boxes, food boxes and persons would have stuffed things down into the hydrant’s valve pit, which is the area you would turn to operate the hydrant from. All of these things will slow down the operation,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Jamaica Fire Brigade has been on a drive to repair fire hydrants across the island.

Mr. Ebanks noted that when the JFB started this initiative, just over 30 per cent of the more than 15,000 fire hydrants islandwide were working.

“At this time, about 70 to 80 per cent of those hydrants are working and I want to applaud the fire hydrant teams… they work relentlessly and around the clock to ensure that these numbers are up,” he said.

“As the premier emergency response agency, we have to ensure that a part of our corporate plan and operational plan is to ensure the efficiency of these fire hydrants,” Mr. Ebanks said.

Statement to The House of Representatives By Hon. Desmond Mckenzie

Madame Speaker…

 

The House is aware that the Disaster Risk Management Order number 16, is now in effect and will remain in force until January 15, 2021. I wish to highlight the fact that the Order preserves the ban on nightclubs, and on parties of all kinds. Additionally, the 17 beaches and 19 rivers that were ordered closed in August, will remain closed. This is important, as we have observed breaches of these provisions in various parts of the country, and those committing the breaches are from one end of the social spectrum to the other.

In keeping with the Order, the Municipal Corporations have not issued any permits for any events anywhere in Jamaica.

Despite this, more than 300 events have been held every week, right across the country, in total breach of the health and safety protocols. There have been bike shows, wakes and grave digging ceremonies, church services with more than 50 people gathered, dances and street parties.

We are also seeing a worrying decline in the levels of compliance by operators of community bars and taverns, and we are aware of nightclubs, especially in the Corporate Area, operating in defiance of the protocols. There are venues registered as restaurants, that are in fact operating as nightclubs, in addition to nightclubs being run under the disguise of restaurants. Just last weekend, there was a large event on Dunrobin Avenue, which the police are actively investigating.

We are also very aware of the trend of promoters of all kinds, using private pages on Facebook and other social media platforms to promote parties. This information has been passed on to the police for action. These are a few of the events now being promoted Madame Speaker: SHUT YU MOUT WID YOU LIKKLE BIT A MONEY, set for Club Utopia in Bull Bay St. Andrew, tomorrow, December 9.

Amazingly Madame Speaker, this flyer says that this event is endorsed by the KSAC! I can assure this House that the Municipal Corporation has NOT endorsed this or any other event. Another one is KIDS MANIA FAMILY FUN DAY, set for December 24, at Bourbon Beach in Negril. The DUB CLUB LIVE, is an event held every Wednesday at Skyline Drive. There is another one called BEAT STREET POP-UP MARKET, set for Sunday December 20, at Orange Street.

The Government is obviously concerned about these patterns of behaviour, which have serious implications not only for health generally, but also for back to school activities after the Christmas holidays.

Madame Speaker, the Government does not intend to stifle the entertainment sector. However, the return to a full range of activities depends on full compliance now, so that life after COVID-19 can be fully enjoyed by all. I am urging people to think not only about today, but about their own medium and long-term future as citizens of a prosperous Jamaica. I must also commend and encourage the police, who, despite the breaches, have actually intercepted many illegal events and have been working hard to enforce the Order.

Madame Speaker, we have all heard and seen the reports of police personnel being stoned and otherwise attacked by residents in some communities, when they went to close down illegal parties. This is simply outrageous and we totally condemn it.

I am very heartened however, that many persons have been reporting breaches to the police, and I am appealing for even more public support in this way, so that the practical effectiveness of the Disaster Risk Management Order will be enhanced. In addition to enforcement measures, there will be an increased presence of Town Criers in all the Municipalities, as we drive home the critical message of compliance.

 

MANAGEMENT OF CHRISTMAS ACTIVITIES

Madame Speaker, I am aware of enquiries by vendors about the operating hours of Markets. Accordingly, the Order specifies that Markets will be opened between 6 am and 9 pm, Monday to Saturday. Markets are to be closed on a Sunday, and additionally, no vending is allowed in public arcades or Transport Centres on that day.

Typically, significant levels of solid waste are generated during Christmas right through to the new year. The National Solid Waste Management Authority is already implementing late-night operations across the country to ensure that we enjoy clean public spaces. Additional sweepers have been deployed to town centres, and the Disposal Sites will be open for longer hours to facilitate removal of waste throughout the season. These extended hours have also facilitated the clearing of waste that had accumulated during the recent rains. The NSWMA, the police and the Municipal Corporations are also operating in a special joint effort to ensure that there are no pile-ups of garbage in our public spaces.

Madame Speaker, I had announced in August, a special partnership between the Ministry, the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management and Digicel Jamaica, that would result in 100 hand-washing stations being procured and distributed to various public spaces across the country.

These stations are now in Jamaica, and I must specially thank Digicel for being a tremendous corporate sponsor, and facilitating the Government in the fight against COVID-19.

I am appealing to the public to use the hand-washing stations correctly, and to protect this investment in public health.

I must emphasize however, that the antidote to the pandemic is ultimately not a vaccine…it is the public’s appreciation that compliance with all the protocols will return us to the path to prosperity in the shortest time.

 

INFIRMARIES and DROP-IN CENTRES

As is known Madame Speaker, visits to residents of Infirmaries have been banned by Order. As a caring Administration, we understand however, the need for contact between our residents and their loved ones. Accordingly, we will be allocating a number of tablets and smartphones to the Infirmaries through the Board of Supervision, to facilitate the joy of the season in our care facilities through video calls and messaging. This special service will continue until the end of January.

Traditionally, Christmas Dinners are held at the Infirmaries, but due to the protocols, this will be managed differently this year.

Relatives and friends will be directed to a venue at which they can leave food items, and charities and service clubs that typically cater to the Residents, will be asked to leave the meals at a special location. Infirmary staff will then collect the items to feed the Residents.

I am also happy to announce that we will be feeding our homeless population throughout the season, and that our Drop-In Centres will also be open throughout this period.

Madame Speaker, the Government, through the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, continues to manage COVID-19, and to take care of the interests of our people. I ask that as this necessary process continues, more of our citizens take heed of the need to protect themselves and their neighbours through compliance, so that we can resume in reasonable time, life as we know it.

Thank You.

 

Desmond McKenzie CD, MP, JP

Minister of Local Government and Rural Development

December 8, 2020

ODPEM Names Youth Ambassador

KINGSTON (JIS) – The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) has named Kyla Gaynor as its 2021 Youth Ambassador.

Her tenure will begin in January and last for one year.

Miss Gaynor, a student of The Queen’s High School, was named as the Ambassador after winning the agency’s Hurricane Preparedness Digital Poster Competition, which was launched as part of efforts to engage young people in a new way, due to the changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Director General at ODPEM, Leslie Harrow, told JIS News that naming a youth ambassador is part of efforts to continue the agency’s engagement with the winner of the poster competition.

“We believe that the youth are the ones to lead us as a nation and the fact that she came forward to enter a competition, we believe that we are not only to just engage youth for the competition, but that they can be better utilised in other areas. And, so for a young person her age, I am fully aware that she has a platform out there and we can use her to educate that cadre of persons and bring some amount of visibility on the social media platforms that are available to her,” said Mr. Harrow.

“Going forward, we will look at our other competition winners and engage them in a similar light,” he added.

The ODPEM Youth Ambassador is expected to share information relating to preparedness for natural disasters, such as hurricanes and earthquakes, with her schoolmates and other young people.

“I feel honoured to be chosen to represent ODPEM as an ambassador. I feel like I can represent them well. I will use my social media platforms to inform others in my age group about the importance of preparing for natural disasters in order to stay safe,” said Miss Gaynor.

Meanwhile, Director of Information and Training at ODPEM, Delmares White, said that the ambassador will receive training similar to what is offered to volunteers in the Disaster Risk Management Volunteer Programme, “so that she will be more knowledgeable in some of the areas”.

She further indicated that the ambassador will also be exposed to All Hazards Training, which will enable her to “offer insights in terms of safety tips, preparedness information and just general information in terms of how to be aware of some of the hazards in your area at that age”.

The ODPEM digital poster competition was open to secondary students from 12 to 18 years of age.

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.”

 

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.