Minister Simpson Miller Urges Local Authority to be Prepared for Emergencies


Minister of Local Government, Community Development and Sport, Portia Simpson Miller has urged the island’s Local Authorities to remain vigilant, as they played a critical role in the country’s emergency response system in the event of disasters such as Hurricane Ivan.
Speaking at a meeting of Local Authorities, which comprises Mayors and Secretary/Managers at the Knutsford Court Hotel on Tuesday (October 5), Mrs. Simpson Miller said that it must be the responsibility of the Local Authorities to be proactive and to monitor and intervene in the rebuilding effort.
The Local Government Minister explained that, “the Local Authority has the policy for disaster management and as we are still in the hurricane period anything can happen. The recovery programme is now in progress and we need to be on the ground to know what is happening”.
Further stressing that planned development was important Mrs. Simpson Miller pointed out that development continued to take place in areas that should not be disturbed, such as watersheds. “Land use and planning issues have to be examined and the environmental impact of development has to be now actively factored into future housing construction,” she stated.
In addition, she reminded the Mayors and Secretary/Managers that the Jamaica Fire Brigade was also an integral part of the inspection process.
Turning to the issue of exemption for developments, Mrs. Simpson Miller pointed out that when housing schemes or organizations were exempted the Parish Council’s approval was not needed, but when the proper infrastructure such as roads, were not put in place the Local Authority was then expected to take over without any consultation with the Parish Council.
“The issues of sewage, drainage, and fire hydrants in these housing developments must be critically taken into consideration for the future of the country,” she said.
Minister Simpson Miller said the dumping of tree limbs and other debris into drains and gullies had to be efficiently monitored to discourage this practice.
She urged the Mayors and Secretary/Managers to examine how they could become more effective in the communities they served and continue to provide assistance to persons affected by Hurricane Ivan.

JIS Social