Environment

Public health nightmare looms over Pedro Cays

BY PETRE WILLIAMS-RAYNOR Environment editor williamsp@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, September 12, 2012 | 11:52 AM    

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WITH no running water, dilapidated toilets and growing quantities of garbage that have promoted rat and fly infestation, Jamaica's Pedro Cays is a public health nightmare in the making.

On a trip to the cays earlier today, the Jamaica Observer was witness to the poor conditions under which some 400 or so Jamaicans live for several weeks and even months at a time each year.

The residents, who journey from parishes such as St Elizabeth and Clarendon to fish at the cays as well as to do other business, complained bitterly of their circumstances.

At the same time, they said improvements have been too long in coming.

"We get a lot of promises from various entities and nothing come of it," said a community leader and fisherman of more than a decade called Shucksman. "One of the time dem seh by 2008 it would come off the ground. But is like the jeep bruk down," he added, chuckling.

Meanwhile, the inhabitants of the cays — and in particular Middle Cay — continue on with life as best they can.

In the absence of functional, clean toilets, they pass faeces and urinate on the beach; and burn their garbage to help keep down the number of flies and rats that have come to call the cay home.

The trip was hosted by the Jamaica Environment Trust through funding made available through an anonymous donor.

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