Jamaica Observer / Any strong supporter of local government, with a conscience, would most likely have bowed their head in shame at the report carried last week in this newspaper about the discussion in the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) Roads and Works Committee meeting. Basically what emerged from that meeting was that the KSAMC is populated by spineless individuals who are abdicating their responsibility to maintain law and order in the capital city.
The report told us that the chairman of the committee, Councillor Donovan Samuels (JLP, Tivoli Gardens Division), argued that the people guilty of building structures, concrete and otherwise, on public sidewalks in Trench Town needed to be handled with kid gloves so as to avoid potential riots.
Councillor Samuels’ suggestion came after Councillor Neville Wright (PNP, Trench Town Division) told the meeting that in some areas of his division “there are concrete structures going up on the sidewalks” and that the KSAMC needed to find a way to deal with the breaches.
Councillor Samuels made the alarming suggestion after Councillor Neville Wright (PNP, Trench Town Division) told the meeting that in some areas of his division “there are concrete structures going up on the sidewalks” and that the KSAMC needed to find a way to deal with the breaches.
According to Councillor Wright, in some of the areas the encroachment was occurring on lands owned by the KSAMC. In fact, he added that the problem was so pronounced that only the top of the road could be seen.
Councillor Wright also told the meeting that several residents in his division had been complaining that the burning of wood to produce coal was affecting their health. However, complaints to the Public Health Department and the KSAMC have not resulted in a cessation of the activity.
Councillor Joy Cotterel (JLP, Barbican Division) also admitted that in her division there were buildings that encroached on sidewalks and pointed out that the problem spanned the municipal administrations of both the People’s National Party and the Jamaica Labour Party.
The argument raised by Councillor Samuels that the local government authority needs to have a discussion with the residents of Trench Town about the breaches, because the community is now a draw for tourists due to the fact that reggae legend Mr Bob Marley once lived there, is simply balderdash.
The fact is that they don’t need to break the law to attract tourists.
Quite frankly, we are not surprised by this lily-livered display by the KSAMC as its ineffectiveness can be seen in the disorder and general chaos that it has allowed to exist on the streets of Kingston and St Andrew for decades.
In the downtown commercial district, for instance, vendors have taken over entire roads, restricting vehicular movement. In other sections of the capital it is not uncommon to see old motor vehicles and large vending stalls on sidewalks and, if that were not enough, commercial businesses are increasingly encroaching on residential communities.
If the KSAMC can’t maintain order in its municipality, what use is it to the taxpayers?
The only glimmer of hope in that meeting was Councillor Dennis Gordon (PNP, Maxfield Park Division), who pointedly reminded his colleagues that, “The right to have good order is implicit in our actions… We must accept that we are not enforcing the law.”