KINGSTON — Senator Desmond McKenzie is urging the Government to fast track legislation dealing with the mandatory evacuation of people from disaster-threatened areas and the establishment of ‘no build’ zones.
In a Resolution tabled in the Senate on June 17, Senator McKenzie argued that the government should pass the legislation before the end of the current hurricane season in November.
Mr. McKenzie, who is also Mayor of Kingston and Chairman of the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC), pointed out that natural disasters have cost Jamaica approximately $100 billion over the past 20 years.
“The situation is further compounded by the location of human settlements in high risk areas, environmental degradation and poorly constructed infrastructure and housing,” he said.
The international Red Cross has estimated that the economic cost of natural disasters has skyrocketed and, in the past two decades alone, direct economic losses from natural disasters were in the region of US$650 billion.
“These losses from natural disasters are most devastating to the poorest people, particularly those in developing countries occupying dangerous and less desirable lands, such as river banks, steep slopes and reclaimed lands,” the Government Senator said.
The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) has stated that Jamaica is vulnerable to multiple natural and human-induced hazards, whose repeated impact on the country’s social and economic fabric is a serious challenge to sustainable development.
By LATONYA LINTON, JIS Reporter