More than $20 million worth of supplies are bound for St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), as part of Jamaica’s disaster relief aid, as they continue to cope with the erupting La Soufriere volcano.
Speaking at the Kingston Wharves Terminal on April 21, where he called on the crew of the HMBS Lawrence Major, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, said the coordinated effort is a “demonstration of Caribbean unity”.
“The Government was approached to provide assistance to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines… [and] we mobilised the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) to coordinate the efforts. Getting the supplies was easy, but transporting posed the difficulty that we have faced at all times when we are asked to respond, and our friends in The Bahamas have demonstrated, again, what Caribbean unity is all about,” Mr. McKenzie said.
The Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) crew aboard the HMBS Lawrence Major responded to the call and received supplies from Jamaica on April 21 and will be transporting them to St. Vincent and the Grenadines on behalf of Jamaica. The vessel leaves port 9:00 a.m. on April 22 for its journey to the eastern Caribbean.
Mr. McKenzie thanked the private- and public-sector entities that partnered to make the donation to SVG possible.
“I want to say a big thank you to the Jamaicans for responding in this very positive way. The Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association, Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, the Red Cross, Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Ministry of Agriculture and Food for the Poor came together and did a fantastic job in not only accepting donations and contributions from a wide cross section of Jamaicans but digging into their own resources to provide the assistance that is needed for the people in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” he added.
Mr. McKenzie also thanked the Jamaica Defence Force for organising transport with the RBDF and helping the Government to gather supplies within the designated timeline. He also thanked the Kingston Wharves Limited, which provided berthing facilities and logistics services.
For his part, Senior Director of Preparedness and Emergency Operations at the ODPEM, Horace Glaze, said water and canned food items have been provided.
“We have also supported with tents for the purposes of emergency shelter as well as for operating in the area, and we have also provided portable toilets to support those who are evacuated and are in shelter, as well as the troops on the ground who are coordinating the evacuation and shelter efforts,” he added.
For his part, Commanding Officer of the Lawrence Major, Lt. Commander Omarv Saunders, said the RBDF is also committed to helping the SVG.
“We are called to service and we are prepared to assist St. Vincent and the Grenadines and their recovery efforts. Just not so long ago, the JDF and the Government of Jamaica assisted The Bahamas in the passage of Hurricane Dorian, so we know exactly what it is to require and need assistance. We appreciate that so much and, hopefully, we can continue to assist as best as we can,” Lt. Commander Saunders said.