Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
THE LEADER of the Opposition is to be included on the National Disaster Risk Management Council following amendments to the Disaster Management Bill in the Senate last Friday.
The council, which is mandated to review and advise on national strategy for disaster management, is to be chaired by the prime minister. It comprises 36 designated representatives, including the director of emergency management in the health ministry, the head of the National Solid Waste Management Authority, the commissioner of police, head of the Jamaica Defence Force, and the commissioner of the Jamaica Fire Brigade.
Although the bill, when it was passed in the House of Representatives, gives the prime minister the right to appoint other persons to the committee, opposition senators Robert Montague and Tom Tavares-Finson argued for an express position for the Opposition of the prime minister.
The position found favour with the Government and Justice Minister Mark Golding, who piloted the bill, moved amendments in that regard, which were agreed by the Senate.
CUSTODES GET NOD
Amendments were also made to the bill that to allow the custos of a parish to be a member of the Parish Disaster Risk Manage-ment Council, which is chaired by the mayor.
A feature of the new bill that has been sent back to the House of Representatives following eight amendments in the Senate, is to require the National Disaster Risk Management Council to facilitate effective national coordination of, preparedness for, response to and recovery from any disaster or emergency situation and collaboration of stakeholders.
The national council has a responsibility to review and advise on a national strategy for disaster management, and to review the state of disaster management in Jamaica. A report must be generated by the council each year and, by May, be sent to Cabinet.
The Office of Disaster Prepared-ness and Emergency Management is being established as a body corporate with its own board of directors. The principal objective of the office, which is headed by a director general, is to advance disaster preparedness and emergency management measures in Jamaica. This function is to be carried out by way of the facilitation and coordination of integrated disaster management systems while at the same time institute measures for mitigating disasters.
At the parish level, the director general of the Office of Disaster Management can take steps to ensure that the functions of parish disaster committees are carried out if the chairman fails to carry out his functions.
Among the duties of the chairman of the Parish Disaster Committee, who is the mayor, is to establish and maintain a list of shelters prior, during and in the aftermath of a disaster.