THE planned visit of the Government team to Pedro Cays, where a public health crisis looms, has had to be postponed after problems developed with the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) helicopter that should have taken them there on Wednesday.
The team is now looking to go next week, according to Minister of Local Government and Community Development Noel Arscott — one of the two ministers who should have made the trip.
The objective of the visit was to gather information on the extent of the problems on the cays; where an estimated 450 Jamaicans live without running water, proper toilet facilities, and a burgeoning garbage dump that has caused a rat and fly infestation on Middle Cay.
Middle Cay is one of the three islands that make up the Pedro Cays, a nationally and regionally significant nesting site for several species of birds and sea turtles.
Yesterday, Arscott said the Government team, including the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Roger Clarke, remained committed to making the visit, as a first step to addressing the problems.
“The first thing is that we will have to go there, evaluate it, and once we do that, we will set the time when we are going to collect the garbage from there and take back as much as possible to the mainland,” he told the Jamaica Observer.
“Simultaneously, I would like to begin a process of the separation of garbage and apply the three Rs [reduce, reuse and recycle] to see to the management of solid waste on the cays,” Arscott added.
Meanwhile, he admitted to being shocked by news of the conditions on the cays.
“Believe me, I was shocked, and really it was the first time I was hearing of it. I could tell you that the current mayor of the KSAC (Kingston and St Andrew Corporation Andrea Brown-Burke) was not even aware that Kingston had responsibility for the cays and that is in the 1907 Pedro Cays Act,” he said, adding that something must be done.