This stagnant problem of corruption and inefficiency


This stagnant problem of corruption and inefficiency

Monday, February 03, 2020

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Let's consider the residents in and around Ocean Lake in Bull Bay, east rural St Andrew who, we are told, are in a state of desperation over flooding caused by a pond.

Water settles in people's yards, on the roadway, overflows sewers and drains, backs up into bathtubs, and even hinders the flushing of toilets.

As is often the case in situations such as this on Jamaica's south coast, there are crocodiles about.

Public servants seem impotent at best.

The National Works Agency says Ocean Lake is the responsibility of the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC). The latter is seemingly unable to help.

Member of Parliament for St Andrew East Rural Mrs Juliet Holness rejects suggestions that she is either negligent or uncaring. She tells us there is no easy fix.

Mrs Holness says that the fundamental problem is that the community is below sea level. Evidently, like so many other places in Jamaica, people should not have been living at Ocean Lake in the first place.

None of this is new. We have been hearing, for many decades, especially after a period of heavy rains, the complaints about flooding across the length and breadth of this country caused largely because people are living where they shouldn't.

Says Mrs Holness: “…I would want to encourage all Jamaicans to also play a part in getting the necessary information and having the knowledge and education about the spaces in which they buy property in which they choose to live. Do the investigation so that you know what happens if it rains, you know what happens if a river is nearby. You also need to take a personal responsibility…”

This newspaper suggests that as a general rule if you are offered a 'house spot' and it is at a lower level than all the land around it, it is reasonable to suspect that's where water settles. Walk away.

Also, people should stop depending on others to identify and buy land on their behalf, without seeing for themselves. To borrow from the inimitable Jamaican folk language, those who rely solely on others run the risk of getting “a six for a nine”.

However, none of the above absolves the authorities. Under the law, the local authorities, including the KSAMC and the rural municipal corporations (formerly parish councils) are required to provide building permits before construction.

Yet, going back as far as anyone can remember, people have been building without permits and getting away with it.

Also, for as long as anyone can remember, business people in commercial centres, as well as individuals and entities in residential areas, have been receiving permits to build in areas that are very clearly unsuitable, leading to situations such as now exists in Ocean Lake.

It is hard not to see the taint of rampant corruption and, at the very least, inexcusable inefficiency, going back as far as anyone can remember.

Jamaicans will only find relief from problems such as Ocean Lake when they find it within themselves to take a stand as one and turn their faces against corruption and slackness at all levels.

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