Thu | Dec 13, 2018

PNP calls on oversight bodies to probe new projects in St Mary

Published:Wednesday | October 11, 2017 | 12:00 AMEdmond Campbell
Fitz Jackson
Audley Gordon

The National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) and the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) are coming under fire from the People's National Party (PNP), which has accused the agencies of using state funds in a partisan manner as a $29.7 million project to remove bulky waste materials in St Mary, Portland and St Ann gets under way.

A document detailing the work to be carried out stated that "all activities under the project are expected to be completed within 10 days of commencing".

At a press conference called by the PNP yesterday in the Opposition offices in Parliament, Fitz Jackson, chairman of the party, charged that St Mary will get 23 of the overall projects, of which 15 are from the constituency of St Mary South East, where a by-election has been called for October 30 to fill the vacant seat in the wake of the death of former member of parliament Dr Winston Green.

Jackson released a letter yesterday purportedly written by Audley Gordon, executive director of the NSWMA to his counterpart from the TEF, Dr Carey Wallace, on September 22, this year.

The letter stated that in keeping with its mandate the NSWMA "has identified the urgent need to reduce the impact of flooding through the removal of illegal dump sites and bulky waste from the environment, in particular within

the parishes of St Mary, Portland and St Ann".

Gordon pointed out that with a significant number of cruise ships expected to make calls at ports in Port Antonio, Ocho Rios and Falmouth, "it was extremely important that the island be presented in the most pristine form ..."

Jackson blasted the two state bodies for allegedly failing to inform the National Works Agency and the St Mary Municipal Corporation of the multimillion-dollar project, noting that both agencies are charged with the responsibility of cleaning drains and keeping roadways clear.

"Apparently, the NSWMA and the TEF have been using state funds in the most disgraceful partisan and corrupt manner without informing other relevant agencies," said Jackson.

He said the intervention of the contractor general and the auditor general was needed to prevent the "constant raiding of the treasury every time the JLP needs to buy votes in an election".

Jackson said that the party has written to both oversight bodies on the matter. He said the political ombudsman has also been asked to examine the situation "because of its obvious potential to cause strife in the 13 communities in which work is scheduled to take place".

Efforts to reach Gordon were unsuccessful, as a recorded message on his phone says his "mailbox is full".