News

Sewage galore in Portmore

BY ANIKA RICHARDS Sunday Observer staff reporter richardsai@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, August 10, 2014    

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WHEN at least three proprietors opened the doors to their businessplaces in the Port Henderson Plaza in Portmore, St Catherine yesterday, they were greeted by a pool of sewage floating almost at their doorsteps.

The Jamaica Observer news team visited the location yesterday and was told that the sewage, which settled in the parking lot at a section of the plaza, has been there for the past three days.

One of the establishments, Dutchie Bickle, a restaurant, was noticeably empty as the attendant stood behind the counter. It was blatantly obvious that the restaurant was not attracting as many customers on a day that is usually busy. A small grocery shop and RAP Locksmith are the other two establishments that had the sewage settling at their doorsteps.

Attempts were made to locate the person in charge of the plaza, but the Sunday Observer was told that that person was not on site. However, the news team did speak with parking attendant Kevin Russell, who said that the issue of sewage overflowing its system and pooling inside the plaza has been one that has persisted for some time now.

"Sometimes three months will pass and then it will flow over and then it will take probably another eight months before it start up again," Russell said. "What happen is that the pipe is one line coming straight from up by Ken's (Wildflower) side."

The Sunday Observer was told that the sewer system continues for some distance past the Port Henderson Plaza. Russell, who said he has been at the location for eight years, said that the problem is that one pipe should not be used to cover that distance.

Russell also said that whenever the system overflows inside the plaza, a company is contacted to clear the sewer system but that on this occasion, they were informed that the pump was not operational at this time. The Sunday Observer tried to ascertain the name of the company to confirm this but no one could identify it.

While the Sunday Observer spoke with Russell, people using the plaza could be seen hopping and skipping, trying as best as possible to avoid the raw sewage which gave off a stench that was difficult to ignore. A passerby, obviously perturbed by the sewage raring its head, said it was about time some attention was given to the issue.

One business owner who did not wish to be named said the issue arises some two times every month and it needs to be fixed.

"A three days now. It happen regular and is only round here so it flow all the while. Them shouldn't put the manhole dem right here so (in front of the establishment), the manhole should be over there, so if it flows it flows into the gully," said the proprietor. "And dem seh dem a guh fix it and all now it can't fix.

"You hardly see people because people running from it. Somebody need to hear about it," he said.

One of the users of the plaza said that a nearby scheme was also being affected by the backed-up sewage, however, he insisted that it was not the plaza's fault but that the entire sewer system needed to be fixed.

One resident from the nearby housing scheme confirmed that they too have issues with the sewer system, telling the Sunday Observer that when she flushes her toilet, instead of the contents leaving the bowl, they come back up.

Residents also directed the news team to the Bridgeport Police Station.

One police officer told the Sunday Observer that although there was no sewage floating around when we visited, it had been there some four days earlier.

"It was constant for about six consecutive days," said the police officer, who added that to avoid the pool of sewage that would gather directly in front of the police station, they would park their motor vehicles and walk to the station. The police officer also said that when the sewage overflows they try not to open the door to the police station and keep the windows closed.

The officer told this newspaper that the overflow happens quite frequently and that there are times that if it rains, they cannot flush the toilets because it will come back up.

"It is disgusting," the police officer told the Sunday Observer.

Upturned noses and tip-toeing customers seemed to be the order of the day as people went about their business yesterday.

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