JIS News

The Ministry of Local Government, Community Development and Sport, is moving to enhance the level of preparedness of local authorities for disasters, including hurricanes.
Local Government Minister Portia Simpson Miller, speaking at a meeting of the island’s mayors, minority leaders, secretary/managers, town clerks and superintendents of roads and works at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel on June 23, said that it must be the responsibility of the parish councils to “examine their state of readiness and be prepared to get everything in place just in case.”
She pointed out that the Ministry was seeking to be better prepared than in 2004 and “that the needs of the people must be put before party consideration”. The parish councils are the local agencies responsible during an emergency until the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) takes over.
Mrs. Simpson Miller further informed, that the Ministry was recommending the establishment of a special allocation to the Equalisation Fund specifically for emergency and disaster, so that the councils would be better able to respond to emergencies in their parish. The matter of equity of the distribution of funds to the parish councils was also reviewed.
Turning to the matter of drain cleaning, Mrs. Simpson Miller informed that a sum of $30 million had been allocated to the local authorities to assist in preparations in this area. “Concentrate on the critical drains during this rainy season as the lives of the people must come first. What has been allocated is not enough so prioritization of the drains must be done,” she pointed out.
She is also urging persons, who may have to go to shelters, to treat them with the same care and respect that they would give their homes. She reminded the audience that the ODPEM and the local authorities must continue to work together as the country continued its preparation for the 2005 hurricane season.