Senator Williams' seemingly cynical promises will not sway us
Kingston Mayor, Delroy Williams

We have the propensity in this space to see and look for the best in our people, choosing to believe that the good will always prevail over the bad, and that men and women are intrinsically good at heart.

Yet, we must admit that, at times, despite powerful evidence suggesting otherwise, we have struggled against cynicism in the face of dastardly acts, like last Thursday's killing of nine-year-old autistic Gabriel King, whose throat was slashed, obviously by monsters, in St James.

At other times, our struggle is engendered by the way elected officials hoodwink the populace, usually with grand-sounding promises, that never amount to much of anything other than their barefaced attempt to trick people into voting for them.

It was difficult not to be cynical about Mayor of Kingston Senator Councillor Delroy Williams as he announced last Friday in the Upper House that all building projects approved by the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) will be subject to mandatory inspection every three months.

“We also said that there ought to be inspections at different stages of the development, separate from the mandatory inspection. So, when you are past the foundation stage, that's an inspection, and for every single floor you go, we [must] have an inspection before you move on,” he pointed out.

Other changes he announced included:

• Requiring the chief engineering officer to submit, on the last working day of each month, a detailed list of building projects taking place across the municipality;

• No application should come to the Planning and Building Committee without the notice of intent to construct, so that residents can be aware of the intent to build at that particular location — the notice to be posted visibly at the site or at the nearest police station or post office;

• No single business officer should manage an application from start to finish to ensure that at least three to four building officers manage a particular application;

• The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to be asked to restructure the Planning Department to create a sustainable planning implementation and monitoring unit and a development applications management unit; and

• The prime minister to be asked “for an interrogation of the entire building and planning approvals processes… all the way to the issuance of strata titles”.

To be sure, the suite of changes outlined by Senator Williams, ostensibly to improve the building and planning approvals processes, should ordinarily be something to be excited and hopeful about. But we dare not, at least not yet.

It's already bad that such periodic inspections, which ought to have been routine, are not done, or are only done when there is an outcry loud enough to make the front pages of the newspapers, but more often soon forgotten.

We are aware that the KSAMC has recently come under severe criticism and court action over alleged breaches of the building approvals process in several cases, latterly at 17 Birdsucker Drive and 10 Roseberry Drive, both in St Andrew. Just last month two senior officers were indicted, albeit on full salary, while investigations are ongoing.

So we will not be cheering on Mr Williams' seemingly cynical promises in the Senate until we see action, live and direct.

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