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Story Highlights

  • The Government is moving to implement aspects of the Disaster Risk Management Act that seek to prosecute persons who refuse to heed evacuation warnings during periods of emergency.
  • The Disaster Risk Management Act was passed in Parliament several months ago, signed by the Governor-General and gazetted.
  • In the meantime, Minister McKenzie said although there have been criticisms from “some quarters” regarding the announcement of the inclement weather, the Government will remain proactive in informing the public.

The Government is moving to implement aspects of the Disaster Risk Management Act that seek to prosecute persons who refuse to heed evacuation warnings during periods of emergency.

Speaking during a press conference at the Office of the Prime Minister in Kingston on August 3, Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie said there are certain regulations that will come into effect shortly.

“We have reached a stage where we can’t continue any longer to put the lives of our first responders at risk because persons continue to disobey the call for evacuation,” he said.

The Disaster Risk Management Act was passed in Parliament several months ago, signed by the Governor-General and gazetted. The Act seeks to strengthen the country’s overall national disaster preparedness, emergency management and response processes and mechanisms through a range of measures.

These measures include giving recognition to existing organisational structures, such as the National Disaster Committee, Parish Disaster Committees and Zonal Committees with their roles and functions clearly established; provisions to legally evacuate persons identified as being at risk, based on their location; identifying and earmarking high-risk areas as especially vulnerable areas; and financing the National Disaster Fund (NDF).

In the meantime, Minister McKenzie said although there have been criticisms from “some quarters” regarding the announcement of the inclement weather, the Government will remain proactive in informing the public.

“The country was placed on alert because it is the opinion of this administration that we are not going to take (any) chance. We’d rather do all the things… necessary instead of trying to play catch-up after the event has passed,” he said.

“We have a responsibility to ensure that whenever the experts provide us with the information,  we take the necessary steps to ensure that we protect lives and property and that is what we did by activating the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC),” added the Minister.

The NEOC was deactivated on August 3, following the lifting of the Tropical Storm Warning that was in effect for the island.

In the meantime, Director of the Meteorological Service Division in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Evan Thompson said the decision to issue the tropical storm watch and warning was as a result of the conditions associated with the system.

He said the Meteorological Service issues warnings on behalf of the Government.