JIS News

Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC) Chairman, Senator Desmond McKenzie, has urged members of the Council to take proactive measures to safeguard the lives of constituents and protect the environment and properties within their divisions against damage, destruction, and other forms of losses.
This appeal comes against the background of the estimated $1.7 billion in infrastructural damage within the Corporate Area from the recent torrential rains associated with the passage of tropical storm Nicole.
Speaking at the KSAC’s monthly meeting at the Council’s Church Street offices downtown Kingston on Tuesday (Oct. 12), Senator McKenzie, who is also Kingston’s Mayor, pointed out that the municipality suffered the brunt of the dislocation experienced by the island, also accounting for the majority of lives lost.
According to the Mayor, years of unsafe environmental practices and lack of funds to fix problems have compromised the municipality’s infrastructure, thereby heightening the risk of danger to life and property.
“So, what you find is that the infrastructure of the city continues to bend under severe pressure. When we look at our gully network some. are over 100 years old. The physical infrastructure of the City of Kingston and its environs can no longer withstand the forces of.nature. I can’t paint a bright picture for the city, unless we are able to deal effectively with at least 70 per cent of our infrastructural problems that we face right now, and it’s going to take a lot of money,” he stated.
He said that the problem is exacerbated by people continuing to build homes and reside in areas deemed flood-prone and throwing garbage into gullies and other water channels, heightening the risk of danger to their lives and those of others.
“People must now begin to understand that what they are doing is not just putting themselves at risk.they are putting an entire city at risk. Because 90 per cent of the homes, which were damaged during the recent rains and most of the deaths, occurred in areas that we have constantly talked about, year in.year out. hardly any new areas of devastation were created,” Senator McKenzie stressed.
He stated that as political representatives “we can no longer preside over a municipality where the law.is ignored, because we have political protection from one party or the other. We can no longer continue to accept that, because people are poor, you can live anywhere.”
He said that while the KSAC is now faced with the challenge of sourcing funds to repair the damage, a long-term solution to the problem is needed, chief of which is a change in the mindset of the people. He urged the councillors to contribute to the process, noting that they cannot continue to distribute water and tarpaulins.
“People have to change. People have to have a different approach to the things they do. I’m challenging all of you when we go back to our respective divisions,.encourage those who are living in areas that are prone to flooding, persons living in areas that (just) need a shower of rain to have a disaster, to relocate,” Senator McKenzie implored, while pointing to the need for other stakeholders to lend their support in this regard.
During the flood rains, some 500 Corporate Area residents had to be evacuated to emergency shelters and supplies such as blankets, mattresses and water were distributed to victims.

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