Laws to punish violators of mandatory evacuation orders coming - McKenzie
Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie has vowed to get regulations in place by the end of this year that will give the authorities the power to take action against people who violate mandatory evacuation orders.
The regulations will come under the Disaster Risk Management Act, which was signed into law in February last year.
Despite the enactment into law, the act has little power as it is without regulations to govern its use.
McKenzie's promise to bring the regulations to Parliament in short order came a day after Jamaica escaped the worst of Tropical Storm Earl.
"There are certain regulations that will be coming into effect shortly that will give the authorities powers under the law to take action against persons who refuse to heed the warnings," he said during a press conference yesterday.
He said the Government would no longer be tolerating the lives of responders being put at risk.
"We have reached a stage where we can't continue any longer to put the lives of our first responders at risk because persons continue to disobey the call for evacuation," McKenzie argued.
The local government minister was responding to reports that fisherfolk at sea refused to come in to land after the tropical storm watch and subsequent warning were issued on Monday.
The Disaster Risk Manage-ment Act gives recognition to existing organisational structures such as the National Disaster Committee, parish disaster committees, their roles and functions; provisions to legally evacuate persons identified as being at risk based on their location; and identifying and earmarking high-risk areas, among other things.