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Business interests, Church, NGOs have had enough of Riverton fires

Published:Tuesday | March 17, 2015 | 6:20 PMGary Spaulding

Armed with fuming fury and equipped with the aerial video footage of smoke raging from the burning Riverton City disposal site on its sixth day, potent business interests have led a 14-member alliance of church, NGO and civic organisations to signal to the Government that ‘enough is enough’.
“Distressed and outrage” was the theme of a joint statement to which the 14 organisation were signatory, contained a raft of demands to the Portia Simpson Miller administration.
“We are fully together on this one and if it is too hot in the kitchen, it is time to get out,” declared President of the Jamaica Manufacturers Association (JMA), Brian Pengelley.
All major groups and some lesser known ones were represented at yesterday’s press conference at the office of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ).
There were no ease on the salvos that were fired primarily at the Health Ministry and the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) but on other state agencies as well, as the business and civic leaders charged that the rights of Jamaicans were under attack.
Diana McCaulay served  notice that the Jamaica Environmental Trust (JET) that she leads would be hauling some offending agencies before the courts for constitutional breaches.
McCaulay said this is separate from actions being contemplated by the Public Defender on behalf of affected Jamaicans.
Carol Narcisse, head of the Jamaica Civil Society Coalition (JCSC) who presented the demands on behalf of the broad-based alliance, called for the immediate establishment of an implementation team.
This, she said, should be similar to the Electricity Sector Enterprise (ESET) and the Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC).
Responding to the Gleaner, Narcisse said such a committee could be set up within a two-week span and that Jamaica possesses the capacity to do better.
But even as Narcisse declared that the failure of the State to deal with the hazards generated from unheralded fires constituted an assault on the rights of Jamaicans, business and other leaders refused be silenced.
Pengelley expressed displeasure that Jamaica’s reputation, because of its failure to prevent fires at the dump, was going up in smoke.
William Mahfood, President of the PSOJ vowed that yesterday marked a new day in Jamaica as future fires would not be countenanced. “The time has come and we can’t allow this to happen any longer.”
 Narcisse called for proper investigations of the numerous breaches and cause of the fire, including the current, which she said have caused so much in productivity.
While she would not be drawn in calling for heads to roll, Narcisse, demanded “full accountability based on the findings of investigations and for those responsible for the management of the dump.

The signatories are:
Jamaica Civil Society;
Jamaica Chamber of Commerce;
Jamaica Council of Churches;
Jamaica Environment Trust;
Jamaica Manufacturers association;
Jamaica Psychological Foundation;
Jamaicans for Justice;
The MSME Alliance;
The Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica;
The Small Business Association of Jamaica;
The National Youth Council of Jamaica;
Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition;
Women’s Resources & Outreach Centre;
WMW Jamaica