St James councillors clash over WPM report
Inside The MunicipalitiesWednesday, October 20, 2021
BY ROCHELLE CLAYTON
MONTEGO BAY, St James — The collection of solid waste by Western Parks and Market (WPM) was again a cause of contention in the St James Municipal Corporation (SJMC) as councillors clashed upon hearing the monthly report shared by WPM's Regional Operations Manager Garnet Edmondson.
During last Thursday's sitting of the SJMC, Edmondson admitted that his solid waste team experienced major difficulties in the last month. He said, however, by ramping up their efforts across the parish they had attempted to rectify the inconvenience being experienced by residents.
“We are now in single-digit backlogs. We have four zones and we have three loads of backlog; we have at least 95 per cent of our communities in St James on schedule presently… our complaints have been down some 98 per cent since the last reporting period. As you know, the complaints go hand in hand with the backlog, so whenever we see the complaints reducing it means that we are doing something right,” Edmondson said.
“Our sweeping in our town centres and village squares continues, and those are going well. We continue to ensure that the verges… are maintained, as you have been seeing on the corridors,” he continued.
But Councillor Michael Troupe (People's National Party, Granville Division) did not agree with this assessment.
“I must commend [WPM] because it seems to me, and maybe my colleagues, that it is only when it comes to council meetings that we get a good report, based on the report we are getting. [But] when you go on the streets it's a different thing you see,” Troupe said. “I know they are having challenges and mi know seh dem a try, but the trying is not good enough. With garbage come rats… and mosquitoes. We have to do better!”
Councillor Kerry Thomas (PNP, Mount Salem Division) shared his sentiments.
“As Councillor Troupe said, the report sounds all nice and dandy but the messages that we get tell a completely different story,” said Thomas.
“As a matter of fact, it sounds like St James is doing the best out of the island because, based on a comment from [executive director of the National Solid Waste Management Authority] Audley Gordon, and [Minister of Local Government and Rural Development] Desmond McKenzie, they are having major challenges. So sometimes we just want an honest report because if we can report to our constituents the truth, then it would be easier to handle,” added Thomas.
But Councillor Gregory Wint (Jamaica Labour Party, Welcome Hall Division) jumped to the defence of the WPM team, saying his peers were being disingenuous.
“I am from a rural division, the hardest place to reach…. where you would call country, and if I have an issue in my division and I reach out to the solid waste team, the quick response will be less than a week. Now, for the two councillors to be right under the clock and having issues and talking about incompetence, I think there is a personal issue, and we are not here to have personal issues with any agency because we are representing the people,” chided Wint.
Citing a dust-up earlier this year when Thomas accused Edmondson of sabotaging his constituency, Wint intimated that it was time for past grievances to be put to rest.
“I think [Thomas] should take the time and take Edmondson's number again so he can call him and tell him the issues he has been having in the Mount Salem Division,” Wint suggested.