JIS News

The Ministry of Local Government, Community Development and Sport has instituted a Task Force on Disaster Management and Assessment, which will be charged with implementing and monitoring the hurricane relief effort in parishes and communities islandwide.
Minister Portia Simpson Miller announced the formation of the body at a meeting held at her Hagley Park Road office in Kingston on Wednesday (Sept.15). Robert Bryan, Executive Director of the Social Development Commission has been appointed to chair the taskforce, which comprises technical staff from the Ministry and representatives from the Association of Local Government Authorities.
Mr. Bryan, who spoke to JIS News on September 16, explained that the mandate of the Task Force was to ensure that the relevant structures and mechanisms were mobilized and connected to the central bodies that had been established by the Prime Minister to lead the relief and recovery effort in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan.
“This Task Force is to ensure that all the possible assistance that is out there is utilized properly, working together to ensure transparency and non political influence in the relief effort,” he emphasized.
He informed that meetings had been held with the mayors to expedite damage assessment and to get that information to the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) and the newly formed Office of National Reconstruction.
Damage assessment should be completed by September 20 and submitted to facilitate timetabling into Cabinet. He indicated that the body would also support the Ministry of Labour and Social Security in identifying the registration centres and documenting the needs of affected persons.
A chief objective of the Task Force is to reduce overlapping of duties among agencies and ensure proper co-ordination. As such, specific operational agreements have been arrived at with the National Works Agency (NWA) in terms of road clearance. “The NWA will be in charge of co-ordination of these efforts and the mayors and the superintendent of works in the parish councils along with the parish manager of the NWA, will facilitate implementation and the scope of the work,” Mr. Bryan further pointed out.
He told JIS News, that the fire service had been identified as a priority area and the Task Force would work to fast track and get the worst affected areas operational and to ensure that the mechanism for receiving distress calls was fully operational. These areas include Montego Bay, Annotto Bay, Falmouth and Black River,” he explained.
In addition, the body will assess the extent of the damage to infirmaries islandwide and respond to the needs of the aged in communities.
In terms of financing, Mr. Bryan pointed out that the local authorities were asked to conduct an audit of the existing resources available to them and to present a plan next week as to how the resources would be prudently utilized to support the activities required.
The Ministry of Local Government has undertaken to examine existing programmes that have funding such as road projects, and to identify which programmes can be accelerated to support the work of the Task Force.

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