Sunday Brew — May 5, 2019

Sunday, May 05, 2019

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The NWC and a box office movie called 'Water Torture'


I would like one person to name one year when Jamaicans were never treated to the blockbuster movie sponsored by the National Water Commission and called 'Water Torture.'

I'll give it a few days because amnesia could also set it among us, but I doubt that the film, which has as its main star the president of the NWC and major roles played by the corporate communications manager, has not been seen repeatedly by Jamaicans, without skipping even one year.

What in God's name is happening to the NWC? Why can't we have a constant flow of the precious commodity that is water? Why do we have to be constantly fed with excuses from the top brass of the State organisation, gloomy scenes about low storage capacity in particular, and sometimes even turbidity when the fluid comes pouring down.

Jamaica should never have a water shortage problem. We push up our chests and call this land one of wood and water, yet, while the wood (some people spell it differently) is there in abundance, there is no water. So where is the water?

Rainfall in Jamaica alone is adequate to supply the needs of our population of around 2.8 million. But there is the leaking issue of storage. There are not many such facilities here. And guess what? very few have been built since Columbus stopped to have a drink at Discovery Bay.

Come on NWC, a greater effort to store the water must be made. Much of the water from some of our main rivers — among them the Black River, Wag Water, Rio Minho, Rio Grande, Martha Brae — goes straight into the sea. That's waste.

Suggestions have been made to build a desalination plant in Jamaica, but such an expensive undertaking is unnecessary. Rain water, and water from rivers exist in abundance. The NWC must find ways for Jamaicans to have it perennially and stop making excuses.


How an unruly robot taxi driver ended 'Top Hill's life


For several years, Lloyd Williamson kept the streets of Highgate in St Mary as clean as he could.

Well, not many people would know who Lloyd Williamson is, but if you mention the alias 'Top Hill' then the entire town and its environs would know exactly who is being referred to.

'Top Hill', who lived in the heart of the town, very close to the police station, was run over by a robot taxi which, as most taxi drivers do these days, was reversing at top speed down the one-way street. The car hit 'Top Hill' twice as he stood in the shadows at the edge of the side walk around 1:45 in the afternoon. It happened under the noses of the police at the Highgate Police Station, right outside the facility, on Good Friday, April 26.

It is a common practice for taxi men to reverse down the one-way of Highgate's narrow main street, but this time a fatal blow was struck against one who had contributed so much. Apart from being a sanitation worker, 'Top Hill' was a small farmer. Yes, he grew crops that contributed to the nutritional advancement of many.

How many more will have to die before law enforcers come down hard on the drivers of public passenger vehicles? We are playing around with them. We are simply joking.

'Top Hill' could have been around to keep the streets clean and to grow more food, but another member of the motorised mob that has no rules, cut his life story several chapters short.

The driving of these people is getting worse by the day. Between Monday and Friday of last week I saw the most horrendous driving that one could imagine.

In busy Cross Roads, for example, the driver of a Toyota Coaster minibus zipped around three other vehicles and raced through the red light, long after it had changed to that colour — missing two bewildered pedestrians by a whisker. When will it end? Why can't we further amend the Road Traffic Act to deal with these hogs decisively?


Let's not be overly reliant on a state of emergency


Crime has featured in most public opinion surveys over the last 25 years as Jamaica's most serious challenge.

It is a shame that for a country that has done so well on the global platform in areas such as sport, academics, and entertainment, one of the things that has stained Jamaica is crime, in particular the number of people who have been murdered by their own each year.

When an island of around 2.8 million inhabitants can kill more than 1,000 of their number, on average, annually, it speaks to a massive problem of how civil we are with our fellow men.

The reintroduction of the state of emergency in the western parishes of St James, Hanover, and Westmoreland last week by Prime Minister Andrew Holness must come as comforting news to those in the western killing fields. But it cannot be good for Jamaica, having to resort to this measure in a bid to keep the lid on criminal activity.

The state of emergency will last for 14 days, although I'm sure the Opposition People's National Party will support its extension in Parliament when the matter comes up for a two-thirds approval in two weeks.

With a state of emergency, there are restrictions. And there will be police/army excesses. Movement of individuals will be limited in some instances. One of the negatives is the effect that the declaration of a state of emergency can have on Jamaica's main money earning industry — tourism. One travel advisory by the United States Government, for example, can mean a downturn in revenues.

The Jamaica Constabulary Force must look ahead of the band aid approach of a state of emergency. Obviously, the apparatus is not in place to deal with crime in the way it ought to be handled. That has to be addressed before anything else can be done.


Succession in the police force


It must be demoralising to members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force who aspire to become Commissioner of Police, to have to bear with officialdom appointing a member of the army — active or former — to head the constabulary.

In the last 15 years my count has shown that three army men have been appointed to lead the JCF: Col Trevor MacMillan, Rear Admiral Hardley Lewin, and now Major General Antony Anderson.

MacMillan did nothing spectacular. In fact, in his bid to show the coat tails of some of the senior officers, he went too far overboard and did not get that 'extra mile' support that was crucial.

Lewin was a different act. His management of the force was top notch and when he left there were many unfinished things. I suspect that he was betrayed by the whole issue of the 'Dudus' Coke situation in West Kingston.

General Anderson is making an effort, though it seems like there is too much dependence on extreme measures like states of emergency and zones of special operations.

But what would have happened under people who came through the ranks from humble constables to senior superintendent, assistant commissioner or deputy commissioner? How can you then tell them that they are not good enough, especially when crime figures do not differ much when army men are in charge?

I don't know how much longer General Anderson will serve as top cop, but I can well imagine how badly people like Devon Watkis, Fitz Bailey and Steve McGregor, among others, must feel that they were not given the chance to put their training into action in how best to protect and serve the people of this country.



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